A guide to what’s new in self-publishing Full reviews of 45 self-published books Listings for 174 new titles
◗ Behind Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award ◗ Drummer for the Doors Goes It Alone ◗ Ingrid Ricks’s Great Escape ◗ Betty Sargent on Fair Use
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Amazon Discovers New Voices
The bookselling giant’s Breakthrough Novel Award gives hope to new authors
By Grace Bello
Since 2008, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has discovered and published authors, many of whom have never been published before. In this contest, which is capped at 10,000 entries, the book pitch and the manuscript are what matter—not an author’s track record or book industry connections.
At the ABNA Ceremony in Seattle, June 15 (l. to r.): Evelyn Pryce (Romance finalist); Rysa Walker (YA finalist and Grand Prize winner); Ken Moraff (General Fiction finalist); Thom Kephart (Amazon Publishing); J. Lincoln Fenn (SciFi/Fantasy/Horror finalist); Jo Chumas (Mystery/Thriller finalist).
hink of it as American Idol for new authors: the experts weigh in, and the audience votes. Publishers Weekly critics and Amazon editors curate the first rounds of submissions, but the final round enlists Amazon customers to vote for their favorite novel out of five finalists, which wins the Grand Prize—a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance. There is no fee to enter, and submissions are judged without revealing the authors’ names until the semifinal round—-a sort of blind taste test. “It forces the work to stand on its own and speak for itself,” wrote Terry Goodman, senior editor at Amazon Publishing, via email—which makes the ABNA contest perhaps the most democratic way of getting a debut novel published. One of this year’s entrants, North Carolina–based Rysa Walker, couldn’t find a literary agent. She had started writing her YA novel in 2004, back when her son was still wearing Elmo slippers. In between teaching history online for the University of Maryland and shuttling her
two kids off to school, she would work from her home office on her story about a time traveling teen named Kate. The book, inspired by her work as a historian and her interest in the equal rights movement, was titled Time’s Twisted Arrow. When she reached out to agents, Walker says, “I didn’t hear back, or heard ‘this isn’t for me.’ ” So she took her YA novel and selfpublished it through her own imprint, Gypsy Moon Books. She had entered the ABNA contest in 2012 with no success: “I left my name in the header of one of the files. I don’t know if that was it, but I didn’t make it past the pitch stage.” She decided to enter her book again in January 2013. After all, who knows what could happen?
Writing Was a Hobby
For many of the authors who have won the ABNA contest, novel writing was a hobby and becoming career authors seemed like an unlikely goal. When they were notified by email that they were still in the running, they were shocked. “To me, [being a writer] sounded like
being an astronaut or a movie star,” says Kansas-based Regina Sirois, the 2012 ABNA Young Adult Fiction winner for On Little Wings (Viking Juvenile, 2013). “I was a closet writer,” says Amy Ackley of Brighton, Mich., the 2010 ABNA Young Adult Fiction winner for her novel Sign Language (Viking Juvenile, 2011). “I hadn’t told anybody that I wrote in my spare time.” Florida-based Jill Baguchinsky had written three novels, all unpublished, before penning her tale of a teenage paranormal investigator, Spookygirl (Dutton Juvenile, 2012). Before James King of Wilton, Conn., wrote Bill Warrington’s Last Chance (Viking, 2010), he had written four novels that had gotten rejected. So when they heard about the Amazon contest, the aspiring authors figured they had nothing to lose. There was no cost to enter, and any rejection would be no worse than what they had already experienced when agents declined their manuscripts. “I had always had zero expectations of making it up through the stages,” writes Barcelona-based Jo Chumas in an e-mail. Her thriller about a murder in Egypt in
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the 1940s, The Hidden (Thomas & Mercer, 2013), was a finalist in the 2013 ABNA contest. “I remember the night the first-stage ‘winners’ were announced. I saw my name and the name of my novel and I screamed with happiness.” Alan Averill of Seattle discovered the competition by Googling the phrase “novel writing contest.” “I was surprised to get past the pitch [stage],” says the author of the 2012 ABNA General Fiction winner, The Beautiful Land (Ace Trade, 2013). “Each time it kept advancing, it felt more and more ridiculous.” He says of his attitude to the competition, “I’m just happy to be here!” widened the net the following year, opening up the contest to twice as many entries but shortening the competition from six months to three and a half months. This attracted submissions from every state in the U.S. and 21 other countries. Amazon introduced a panel of book industry insiders, including Sue Grafton and Sue Monk Kidd. Again, only one author would emerge triumphant. Says Amazon spokesperson Brittany Turner, “We found that we were getting a lot of YA, so we decided to branch it off.” Two Grand Prize winners were awarded in the 2010 contest, one in general fiction and one in young adult fiction. And Amazon deemed self-published books eligible for entry, not just unpublished manuscripts. Though the competition would award two publishing contracts with Penguin, each author would receive an advance of $15,000, down from the previous year’s $25,000. In 2011 and 2012, the rules remained the same, and the 2012 competition attracted the most entries in the history of the contest. However, in 2013, Amazon widened the winners’ circle once again and featured five finalist slots and, among them, one Grand Prize winner. To make it to the final five, a book needed to make it to the top spot in one of the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, or Young Adult Fiction. Why the expansion? Though the publishing sponsor for years had been Penguin, this year it was Amazon itself. “This was our opportunity to have each of our imprints publish one of the winners,” says Turner. From there, Amazon customers would vote for their favorite entry. All finalists would receive a publishing contract from Amazon, but the finalists would earn a $15,000 advance while the Grand Prize winner would land a $50,000 advance. “The publishing world seemed to me like this scary, private club with only a few select members,” Chumas says. “Writers enter ABNA and the absolute only thing judged is their writing. It isn’t about who you know, who you went to school with, the color of your skin, your gender. ABNA entries are submitted anonymously so judges have no idea who is who. This means it’s a fair and equal playing field. I think that’s brilliant.”
Breaking Through the Noise
The novels that survived round after round of judging offered a wide range of unique perspectives and sensibilities, culled from the respective authors’ diverse experiences far away from the Manhattan literary scene. But enduring the pressure of the highly selective contest came with its own set of challenges. The ABNA contest was highly competitive from the start—and has only gotten tougher. During the inaugural contest in 2008, Amazon received more than 5,000 submissions from 2,000 cities around the world, all contending for one publishing contract with Penguin and a $25,000 advance. Spectators kept track of the authors and novels that were still in the running by viewing the list on Amazon’s Web site. Staying in the contest was a high stakes game, and not everyone thrived under the pressure. Says Bill Loehfelm, whose Staten Island–based thriller Fresh Kills (Putnam, 2008) won the Grand Prize in the 2008 contest, “It’s weird because there’s a tremendous amount of rejection and, through the contest, a lot of the rejection is public. When you do it the traditional way, at least all the rejection is private. You don’t have everybody watching the contest seeing you get bumped.” Thanks to an overwhelming response to the inaugural ABNA contest, Amazon
From Amazon’s perspective, the ABNA contest serves several purposes. Says Turner, “It’s kind of a mix of giving authors a new outlet and having customers have a direct say in what makes it out into the world.” But also the retailing giant gets to leverage its self-publishing platform and scout talent for its own imprints: CreateSpace hosts contest entries, and Amazon Publishing’s various imprints bring the winning books into the world. But for the authors themselves, landing their book deals and advances is a dream come true. Winning the inaugural competition transformed Loehfelm from a bartender who wrote on the side to an author who bartends on the side. But he says that the greatest gift he received thanks to the attention of the ABNA has been his agent Barney Karpfinger, who also represents John Lescroart. Says Loehfelm, “My goal was not to win a contest, it was to start a career.” He has since published Bloodroot (Putnam, 2009), The Devil She Knows (FSG/Sarah Crichton Books, 2011) and The Devil in Her Way (FSG/Sarah Crichton Books, 2013). ABNA contestant James King was a freelance corporate writer who had written four novels, all rejected by agents. Then, at the age of 55, he enrolled In the Manhattanville College writing program and began writing a manuscript inspired by one of his neighbors, “a very gritty New Englander with a heart of gold.” King’s novel, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance, won the 2009 ABNA contest and was published in 2010. The 2010 ABNA winners, Amy Ackley in the young adult category for Sign Language and Patricia McArdle in the general fiction category for Farishta (Riverhead Hardcover, 2011), both began their manuscripts far away from the New York publishing scene.
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McArdle, a retired diplomat, finished revisions on her manuscript in January 2010 while visiting a refugee camp in Chad. Her novel about a woman’s struggle for redemption against the backdrop of northern Afghanistan was inspired by her experiences working in the region for the Department of State. “I kept a detailed journal when I was in Afghanistan,” she says. “When I came back, I considered writing a nonfiction account, but I decided I might be able to reach more people [with fiction] and I could also be freer with my opinions. I had never taken a workshop. I bought five books on how to write a novel.” After her win for Farishta, which came out in paperback last year, McCardle’s now working on a film adaptation of the book and will soon begin her second novel. Ackley, who won the 2010 ABNA for young adult fiction, hails from Michigan where, after the death of her father when she was 16, she and her 17-year-old brother lived on their own. “I worked three jobs and put myself through college.” Despite her love of creative writing, she pursued a more stable career in human resources. But then grief permeated her adult life as well: she lost a 37-year-old friend to breast cancer, who left two kids behind. “I saw those kids try to pretend everything was okay. I remembered how I was, and how much I buried my own grief. I took care of [my father] at home, and I watched him deteriorate every day. At that age, it’s very difficult to imagine your parent being mortal. And I started writing about that experience.” She says that she saw a need for a novel for young adults that dealt with terminal illness. Sign Language hit bookshelves in 2011. Since then, she has been invited to speak at libraries, schools, and community groups about topics including how to reach at-risk youth. She is currently shopping around her second YA novel and is at work on her third book. The 2011 competition selected Gregory Hill’s East of Denver (Dutton Adult, 2012) for general fiction and Jill Baguchinsky’s Spookygirl for young adult fiction. Hill’s first manuscript “got 130 rejections.” So for his darkly funny novel about struggling rural America, “the inspiration was not in anticipation of getting published.” East of Denver won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Fiction in June and recently got optioned for a film adaptation. Hill says that, thanks to winning the competition, “I’m no longer completely obscure, and that’s difficult to achieve, and I’m very happy that that’s over.” Baguchinsky, a small business owner living in Marco Island, Fla., had spent a decade writing novels and trying to get them published. “It was always ‘wrong place, wrong time,’” she says. She wrote Spookygirl, her fourth book, as part of the novel writing marathon NaNoWriMo. When she won the 2011 ABNA in young adult fiction, she says, “It basically jump-started the career I’ve been trying to start for 10 years.” Since Spookygirl hit bookshelves in August 2012, Baguchinsky has crafted several more manuscripts and found an agent, Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary. Sirois, the 2012 ABNA winner for young adult fiction, went from being a stay-at-home mom in Kansas who wrote fiction at her baby’s bedside to publishing her literary YA book On Little Wings: “I wanted a story that I would feel good about my daughters reading. I felt like it was getting to the point where it was difficult to find a story about a human who didn’t have superpowers and wasn’t saving the world. I wanted them to know that their lives still mattered even though there weren’t extraordinary circumstances.” Her novel explores one girl’s mother’s severed past, and the daughter’s quest to reconnect with her true roots. Her book, which came out in May, landed on the Kids’ Indie Next List and will bring her to schools and libraries this fall to speak about reading and literature. “I would call it a dream job,” she says. “I didn’t imagine I would make it into the pack—and certainly not to the top of the pack. It’s something I’ve always wanted but never expected.” Seattle-based Averill, who won in 2012 for general fiction, was unemployed, having quit his job as a video game scriptwriter at Nintendo. As with Baguchinsky, NaNoWriMo prompted him to hammer out his novel. He entered the ABNA in early 2012 as a sort of last resort: “I didn’t know what else to do with the book. I had sent it to every agent who might be interested. It’s a sci-fi, fiction, horror, love story mashup. I had been turned down by all the agents, and I had nothing to lose by entering.”
This Year’s Winner
Goodman says of this year’s crop of entries, “Within the fiction category, there was a whimsical book about minor league baseball players in the 1930’s, a searing portrait of 19th-century gender limitations, a contemporary comedy set in China, and a book about a group of culinary experts set in London. All had compelling characters, original POVs, and a maturity in the writing that was heartening and surprising.” Walker and fellow finalists Chumas, Ken Moraff, Evelyn Pryce, and J. Lincoln Fenn were flown out to the June 16 ABNA ceremony in Seattle. And to Walker’s delight, Amazon declared her book, renamed Timebound (Skyscape, 2013), the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 ABNA. She landed a book deal with Amazon and a $50,000 advance. Her novel comes out November 1. Though she still doesn’t have a literary agent, Walker says the advance allowed her to scale back on teaching and focus more on her writing. She plans to expand Timebound into a series with two more full-length novels and two novellas. Of winning her book deal alongside the four other finalists at the award ceremony, she says, “We all knew our books were going to get published; it’s nice to know we were all leaving with a chance to make it. Any one of those books can take off, it’s just a matter of whether it connects with the readers.” ■ Grace Bello is a lifestyle and culture writer based in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_land.
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Writer on the Storm
To protect the integrity of a book about protecting the integrity of his band’s music, Doors drummer John Densmore turned to self-publishing
By Alex Palmer
It is probably hard for most people to imagine turning down several million dollars for just signing one’s name. But that is what John Densmore, drummer for the Doors, did in 2004, when Cadillac offered $15 million to use the band’s hit “Break on Through (to the Other Side)” in a car commercial—a record-breaking sum for a licensing fee. His refusal, and the hard-fought and emotional legal battle with his bandmates over their use of the band’s name, forms the narrative of Densmore’s new book, The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison’s Legacy Goes on Trial.
he book offers rock ’n’ roll intrigue as well as the drummer’s full explanation for why he had to put his foot down about how the band’s music and name were used. But while Densmore’s writing in Unhinged outlines his philosophy of artistic integrity, the actions he took in self-publishing and marketing the book provide their own lesson in creating a product that sells, but on the creator’s terms. When a major New York publishing house learned that Densmore was writing a follow-up to his first memoir, 1990’s Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors, they jumped at the opportunity to acquire it. Published by Delacorte and offering up gritty behindthe-music details about the band’s rise to fame and the Lizard King’s genius and self-destruction, Densmore’s first book
had been a New York Times bestseller. The publisher interested in the second book offered a “moderate advance” according to Densmore and things were moving forward much as they had for his first book. But then it started to become clear that he and the publisher were not on the same page. “They started telling me to write more about Jim,” says Densmore. “I said, ‘I already did that—it was a bestseller, pick it up.’ They said, No there’s got to be more stories. Densmore wanted to tell a different kind of music-industry story about the life of a legendary band long after it ceased releasing new albums. At Morrison’s urging, the Doors members had made an unusual agreement in its early days to give each of the four founding members an equal cut of the band’s earnings as well as veto power over any major decision.
This meant that when the Cadillac offer came, even with the enthusiastic support of two of the three living members of the band—keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger— the deal couldn’t go through without Densmore’s okay. When Manzarek and Krieger began touring as a new version of the Doors, with the Cult’s Ian Astbury as singer and the Police’s Steward Copeland on drums, using the band’s name and its logo, Densmore likewise felt it went against Morrison’s vision for the band. With the support of Morrison’s estate, he sued his former bandmates to keep them from touring under the band’s famous name. “When I initiated the legal proceedings, some hardcore fans thought I was destroying the band,” says Densmore. “But if you read this thing, you see that I was trying to save the band and save the legacy.” For the book, Densmore drew on 20,000 pages of trial transcripts from the three-month legal battle. The narrative includes plenty of courtroom drama, including Densmore recalling his last conversation with Morrison, Stewart Copeland taking the stand to defend
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Indie record stores have proven to be lucrative venues for Densmore’s promotional appearances.
Densmore, and the arrival of Morrison’s parents at the trial. But to keep it from being a “dry courtroom thing,” Densmore also packs the events with plenty of flashbacks and anecdotes from the band’s early years and his own recent collaborations. All in all, this was a story that Densmore wanted to tell. He found this much more compelling than the grab bag of half-remembered moments with Morrison that hadn’t made it into Riders, which the publisher seemed to want him to write. The last straw was when the publisher tried to spike the title The Doors Unhinged. Densmore felt it perfectly captured his story. The publisher felt it was too negative and might turn off fans of the band. “So guess what? I did it on my own.”
Breaking on Through (to Readers)
Going on the advice of a writer friend who had self-published, Densmore opted to use Amazon’s CreateSpace for the print version of his book, and Kobo for the e-book version. He reached out to artist Shepard Fairey,
also a friend, about doing the cover design. Densmore had a specific photo of the band in mind, which shows Morrison standing on the left side of the picture with Densmore next to him. Fairey ran with that idea, adding his signature red and black color scheme as well as another detail: A key in Morrison’s hand. “In one visual, he captured the whole book—that Jim holds the key to the Doors’ legacy,” says Densmore. Being able to do this kind of creative brainstorming, without the interference of a overseer focused only on commercial considerations, made the process a pleasure for Densmore. “I have total control,” he says. “If it doesn’t go right, I have no one to blame but myself.” He knew he would have to throw himself fully into marketing the book even more than he had for Riders, since this time there would be no distribution or marketing support from a publisher. Densmore needed to connect to the band’s fans, music lovers, and anyone to whom the courtroom story might appeal—and he realized bookstores might not be the best places to find these readers. Through his recent musical performances, Densmore had come into contact with Michael Kurtz, one of the founders of Record Store Day, which celebrates independent record stores, taking place on the third Saturday in April of each year. “These little record stores hung on and diversified, so they have vinyl, and box sets, and books, and they all have that sense of community,” says Densmore. Working with Kurtz and distributor Baker & Taylor, Densmore decided to schedule his book launch on April 17, a few days before Record Store Day, and plotted out a longer-term book tour at dozens of independent music stores. He promoted each event with local media appearances that he organized himself. “I’ve sold no less than several hundred books every appearance,” says Densmore, and in the first months since publication,
he estimates that Unhinged has sold about 10,000 copies total. If sales continue apace, he says he will “be out of the hole” and have his legal fees covered by the year’s end. Describing those fans who show up as “music maniacs,” Densmore suggests that this approach would work well for other musicians promoting books, in addition to another element he has brought to recent appearances— doing performances, not readings. When Steve Harkins, vice president of music at Baker & Taylor, invited Densmore to appear at the distributor’s annual gathering of booksellers, he agreed, and decided to try something there that had worked well when he was promoting Riders almost 25 years before. “They said, ‘You can do whatever you want for an hour,’ so I read from the book, but I accompanied myself musically and drummed while I read, lit candles at poignant sections, and developed this kind of theatrical reading,” says Densmore. “I did that for the Baker & Taylor people and they went crazy for it.”
But in the midst of the successful book tour, tragedy reared its head. Just a little more than a month after the book’s release, on May 20, Manzarek, who had been hospitalized in Germany, lost a months-long battle with cancer. Before learning about how serious the cancer had gotten, Densmore had sent Manzarek and Kreiger the final chapter of Unhinged, which is written as an open letter to his two bandmates. Upon hearing Manzarek’s health had worsened, Densmore called him and the two chatted by phone. With the passing of Manzarek, Densmore seems more determined than ever to ensure that the legacy of the Doors lives on. And he says he can hardly imagine a better way to do so than by getting his words out into the world on his own terms. ■ Alex Palmer is a freelance journalist and the author of Weird-o-Pedia.
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TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHING
Understanding Copyright: What Every Indie Author Needs to Know
By Betty Kelly Sargent
When T.S Eliot’s “The Waste Land” was published, E.E. Cummings wanted to know “why Eliot couldn’t write his own lines instead of borrowing from dead poets,” according to a recent article in Huffington Post by David Galenson. Robert Frost said Eliot had created “an anthology of the best lines in poetry, strung them together, and copyrighted the result.”
The advantages of registering your work are:
You will have proof of the date of creation. If you bring a claim against an infringer and prevail, you are entitled to damages set forth in the Copyright Act. You don’t have to prove actual damages. ● Perhaps best of all, you are entitled to your attorneys’ fees if you prevail. The term of the copyright is the author’s life plus 70 years, whether you register your work or not.
It is also important to understand what cannot be copyrighted:
Titles, names, short phrases and slogans, listings of ingredients or contents. ● Works in the public domain and U.S. government works. ● Ideas, facts, methods, procedures, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries. ● Works made up of information that is common property like the phone book, lists, or tables.
o what’s the fuss all about? Did Eliot really steal from other poets, or were Frost and Cummings just jealous? Why wasn’t the work of those dead poets protected by copyright, or was it? Good question. Copyright law can be pretty confusing even for intellectual property lawyers. But the good news is that, now, thanks to the Internet, figuring out who owns what and how to protect what you have written has become easier than ever. First of all, it is important to understand how copyright works. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form. This includes literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings, and architectural works. The fact is that your work is protected by copyright from the moment you create it in a tangible form. But at BookWorks.com we encourage self-published authors to register their work anyway, just to be on the safe side. Here’s how you do it.
When a critic quotes a brief excerpt from a book she is reviewing, that is usually considered fair use. When a writer quotes a passage from another book and credits the original author, this too is usually considered fair use. But, figuring out how much of another writer’s work you can use without getting permission (i.e. “fair use”) can be tricky. The law usually boils it down to four questions:
How are you using the other writer’s work? What is the purpose of your use? ● What is the other work—for example is it creative or primarily factual? ● How much of it are you using? ● Is your use going to reduce the ability of the other writer to license uses of his work?
Go to: www.copyright.gov
Create a username and password for eCO; Follow the instructions for registering your work-in-progress; and ● Get your pre-registration claim number by paying the $115 they require, and bingo, your work-in-progress is protected by law. Then, when you have your e-book in its final digital form, you can complete your copyright registration this way.
Go to: www.copyright.gov/eco
Log in with your username and password; Fill in the required information and include your pre-registration number; ● Upload your e-book; ● Pay an additional $35; ● Receive your copyright number. Now, you are good to go. It should take about four to six weeks for the number to arrive.
These days, in many fair use cases, the courts have been looking at whether your use of another’s work is “transformative”— in other words, does it add value to the original work and repurpose it for another audience? When in doubt, seek permission from the original author or the author’s estate. Even if you are not able to connect with the original copyright holder, the fact that you have tried should work in your favor if ever there were a problem. And, even if you are turned down, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that if a use is a fair use, the fact that you asked and were turned down doesn’t undercut your claim of fair use. Whenever you are unsure about fair use, be sure to check with an intellectual property lawyer. As for Eliot, he believed that poetry is “a living whole of all the poetry that has ever been written.” I’m no lawyer, but that sounds pretty transformative to me. ■ Betty Kelly Sargent is founder and CEO of BookWorks.
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Ingrid Ricks’s Great Escape
By Ryan Joe
In her youth, Ingrid Ricks was in constant search for escape. She grew up stifled by an overbearing stepfather who wielded his Mormonism with all the tenderness of a war club. She rebelled against the confines of both religion and poverty—fantasizing that she was a forgotten sibling of the Osmonds and that in time the famous family—her real family—would return for her. At 13, true
escape came when she teamed up with her father, a traveling, tool-selling vagabond. Ricks and her father traveled the country until he was arrested, forcing her to begin finding her own path.
“I went sauntering into that room feeling very cocky and good about myself,” Ricks recalls. She’d worked as a journalist before and knew she could string together prose. But as she listened to the writing of her peers, she began to understand the importance of dialogue and character and scene development—and she realized that her writing had none of it. When it came time to discuss Ricks’s writing, the room went silent. She immediately told the agent to trash her submission and enrolled in more workshops to hone her fundamentals and learn the difference between the journalism she’d done before and the writing she wanted to do. “I really learned to tell a story instead of paint a picture,” she says. “I was mortified,” Ricks remembers. She realized then that she’d been talking about Hippie Boy for so long, yet never writing it, that the idea of her book had become a family joke. More importantly, she felt it was a bad example to set for her children. “I had something I wanted to do so much it was eating a hole in me,” Ricks says, “but I wasn’t doing it. It felt like it was an irresponsible thing to do.” The next day, she and her husband worked out a plan. Ricks would scale back her work as a marketing consultant, take only the minimum of clients, and bang out her book.
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t’s a saga that Ricks recounts in her self-published book Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story, which recently found itself a place on the New York Times Bestseller list for e-book nonfiction. More recently, it was picked up by Penguin Random House division Berkley Books, for a January 2014 re-release. But the journey that eventually led to the publication and eventual success of Hippie Boy is, like Ricks’s childhood, one full of uncertainty, serious self-reflection, and determination. Ricks self-published Hippie Boy in September 2011, but the process of actually finishing the book was a decade-long grind. It began initially as another project, when Ricks’s was writing her father’s rags-to-riches-to-rags story during which she kept inserting the narrative elements that would eventually become Hippie Boy. Ten years later, she was still talking about her idea for the book—just not really writing it. Along the way, she had to power through a couple of humiliations. The first happened at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) conference, where Ricks hobnobbed and networked, and where she had already found a prospective agent to whom she’d sent 50 pages of Hippie Boy. On a whim, Ricks also signed up for a workshop.
In January 2010, Ricks put her writing plan into effect. At the time, she had a few chapters in decent shape, and a base outline. “I had maybe 100 pages and of those, there were a couple of chapters I was really proud of,” she says, “and the rest of it was a mess. The most difficult part was figuring out how to start the story and where.” Ricks partitioned her day such that she woke up at 5:30 every morning so she’d have an hour and a half of writing time. She’d do client work until the afternoon, then leave for a nearby coffee shop where she’d write until the evening. By June, Hippie Boy was complete. away feeling much had happened with Ricks internally that hadn’t been written into the book and also pointed out that some of the dialogue felt stiff. The edits added another 50 pages to the book. Ricks hired another professional to design the book cover and in September 2011, introduced Hippie Boy to the world.
The Publishing Game
The time Ricks spent working her way through the PNWA conference had given her certain presumptions about the publishing industry: You find an agent, the agent does some behindthe-curtain magic, and you have a publishing contract. The first step went as planned. Ricks used her background in marketing and PR to cobble together a book proposal and found an agent by August. Her celebration lasted minutes, until the agent told her that she needed to build a platform for herself. This was where the rules, as Ricks understood them, had had their most drastic shift. The publishing world was no longer interested in how large of an audience it could potentially attract—it was interested in how large an audience the author, whether published or not, already had. Over the next few months, Ricks became a marketer again. She built a site and began engaging with an audience to build and expand her base. She developed a blog in which she profiled individuals who’d turned their dreams in realities. And she began writing essays—discovering that she loved the format. Ricks posted her work on sites like Scribd and Open Salon—a publishing platform affiliated with the online news site Salon. com. Ricks began attracting readers. Her essays on Scribd showed up on the home page, which drove social media followers and Web traffic. And her Open Salon essays were hand-picked by editors and featured on the main Salon.com site. In December 2010, as Ricks accumulated her audience, her agent shopped her manuscript to three or four publishing houses. One month later, she had her first pile of rejections. The publishers loved the voice, Ricks was told, but the memoir market was saturated. Thanks and good luck. As Ricks built her name through online essays and podcasts (mostly about Mormonism), she began to see the mild absurdity of her situation. “When I wrote an essay for Salon, hundreds of people would come to my Web site,” she says, “but I didn’t have a product to sell.” Ricks told her agent to stop trying to sell the book and they parted ways; she would go about publication alone. Ricks hired a former editor from HarperCollins, Erin Brown, for some editorial advice. Brown reviewed Hippie Boy and came
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For self-published authors, first impressions are everything and Ricks has encountered authors who’ve had their work demolished on Amazon. “They’ve taken it back out and want to relaunch it and ask how they can do it,” Ricks says. “And I feel awful for them, but the thing is, it’s really hard once you’ve gone out there with a book and gotten negative reviews. It’s really hard to overcome that. No amount of knowing how to market will matter if your book is crap.” That Ricks only introduced Hippie Boy when she knew it was ready allowed her to concentrate on bolstering its audience through marketing. The “game-changer,” as she put it, occurred after the book had been out six weeks. Amazon had a special promotion in which authors exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle Store could offer the book for free for a certain period of time. “It took me exactly five minutes to pull my book out of Barnes & Noble for that time and set up my promotion the next day,” Ricks says. “I don’t do the program anymore, but I understand the power of sharing and promotions.” The continued success of Hippie Boy is due to constant building. Construction on the author platform can’t ever stop. “Every day, I try to push Hippie Boy or Focus (a memoir about Ricks’s combat with a degenerative eye disease),” she says. One year after she released Hippie Boy, she read a section of the book on the NPR show Snap Judgment. An article in the Atlantic in midJune 2013 focused on the radio program and specifically mentioned Ricks’s reading as a standout episode. All of these elements work together to grow a readership.
Stepping Off and Falling Up
When Ricks thinks back about her initial trepidation around the story that would eventually become Hippie Boy, she’s aware of the various issues that paralyzed her. She had a family she needed to care for. She didn’t want to hurt her mother. She didn’t want people to think her book was an attack on Mormonism, rather than an examination of the abuse of power that happened to take place within a Mormon household. Ricks would only write the book after she allowed herself to sit down, put pen to paper, and gut it out. “When you give yourself permission to step off that cliff and head off the known path, you’d think you’d have this one goal in sight, but that path is always changing,” Ricks says. ■ Ryan Joe is a writer living in New York.
New Titles from Self-Publishers
The 174 titles submitted for our 13th PW Select
Booksellers, publishers, and agents are encouraged
to take a look through the following listing of self-published books from authors either waiting to be discovered or with a track record and a following who are doing it on their own.
Japan 365: A Drawing-A-Day Project J. Muzacz. J. Muzacz. $30 paper (432p), ISBN 978-0-985312701 Amazon Artist and English teacher Muzacz traveled through Japan in 2011, creating a drawing for every day of the year he spent, including observations and anecdotes in both English and Japanese.
9780984000418; $9.99 e-book Amazon; Barnes & Noble Growing up in the 1950s, a 10-yearold girl learns her life is controlled by a madman: a schizophrenic father, a street preacher and self-proclaimed evangelist, who kidnaps her and her two younger siblings and hitchhikes across the country and back. Homeless and unschooled, the children meet occasional kindnesses and refuge with their grandmother. Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss Larry M. Edwards. Wigeon Publishing. $28.95 hardcover (312p), ISBN 9780985972820; $6.99 e-book ISBN 9780985972868 dareicallitmurder.com/ Edwards unmasks the emotional trauma of violent loss as he ferrets out new facts to get at the truth of why his parents were killed. Begotten: With Love: Every Family Has Its Story Jo Ann V. Glim. Stemma Books, Ltd. $16 paper (312p), ISBN 9780988812901 BegottentheBook.com
American history over 150 years is related through the eyes of an immigrant family as members begin to assimilate into the fabric of our nation. So Many Lovely Days: The Greenwich Village Years Mara Kirk Hart. Kirk Press. $15 paper (144p), ISBN 9780989047807 (218) 728-1254 firstname.lastname@example.org George and Lucile Kirk owned the Chelsea Book Shop in Greenwich Village from 1927 to 1939; their story is told by their daughter. What It Looks Like: An Awakening Through Love and Trauma, War and Music, Sports and History, Politics and Spirituality Marta Maranda. Alchemadhi Publishing. $19.95 paper (448p), ISBN 9780985781408 martamaranda.com; Amazon In 2003 Maranda checked into an addiction treatment center a week after her exhusband checked out, even though she didn’t have any addictions. In her search for answers, she learned that the tools and teachings of recovery are universal, not just for addicts.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
No End of the Bed Lauren J. Barnhart. Knotted Tree Press. $14.99 paper (294p), ISBN 9780615776958; $8.99 e-book Amazon A search for truth through differing perceptions of sex, with some surprising parallels between fundamentalist churches and the sex-positive movement. Insanity on the Road to Glory Estie Culler Bennington. Alabaster Book Publishing. $20 paper (420p), ISBN
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3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White Ron Miles. CreateSpace. $12.95 paper (246p), ISBN 9781482093308; $2.99 e-book ISBN 9781301180233 Amazon A boy with autism comes alive when his family visits Disney World. They move from Seattle to Orlando to put his passion to practical use. Pressing My Luck: A Doctor’s Lottery Journey Shirley Press, M.D. Re-Spin Publishing. $7.99 paper (265p), ISBN 9780989406109; $1.99 e-book ISBN 9780989406123 Amazon In 2001, Press won $56 million ($17.5 million take home) in the Florida Lottery. In her memoir, she takes readers on a tour of her life and looks back on how the lottery windfall affected it. Little Satchmo: Living in the Shadow of My Father Louis Daniel Armstrong Sharon Preston-Folta, with Denene Millner. CreateSpace. $9.99 paper (112p), ISBN 9781481228237; $2.99 e-book ISBN 9781301411184 Amazon; Smashwords The untold story of Louis Armstrong’s passionate affair with Lucille Preston, which produced his only child, Sharon. Adventures in Filmmaking: Peter Rowe. Pinewood Independent Publishing. $15.95 paper (273p), ISBN 9780991862504; $8.95 e-book ISBN 9780991862511 Amazon; iBooks; Barnes & Noble, Kobo A breezy, amusing memoir of a life filming rock stars, feature films, natural disasters, and wild animals from Antarctica to Timbuktu, over 40 years, from the underground scene of the ’60s to international adventure series today. All The Wild Children: (a noir memoir) Josh Stallings, intro. by Tad Williams. Snubnose Press. $15.99 paper (304p), ISBN 9781482601916; $2.99 e-book Amazon In a brutally honest memoir, a child of the ’60s becomes a teen in the ’70s and a father in ’80s—experiencing guns, drugs, sex, and fatherhood. Neither Here Nor There John Suddath. Virtual Reflections. $7.19 paper (213p), ISBN 9781482618358; $4.99 e-book Amazon In the author’s struggle against fear to accept himself as both gay and Christian, he gains insight into what it means to be fully human. Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity Catana Tully. Completion Enterprises LLC. $14.39 paper (263p), ISBN 9781479114696; $2.99 e-book Amazon In engaging, elegant prose, this memoir unveils the blessings and pitfalls of growing up among an ethnicity and a culture different from one’s own. markets have thrown our economy and society out of balance. It calls for a return to those natural institutions, principles, and values that keep markets free and prosperous. Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals Ron Leshnower. Hillocrian Creative. $19.99 paper (306p), ISBN 9780989291101 fairhousinghelper.com Protect your business, gain peace of mind, maintain good tenant relations, and avoid legal trouble by learning how to comply with housing discrimination laws. Commitment: A Novel About Managing Project Risk Olav Maassen and Chis Matts, illus. by Chris Geary. Hathaway te Brake Publications. $29.95 hardcover (224p), ISBN 9789082056907; $29.95 e-book ISBN 9789082056921 commitment-thebook.com The first business graphic novel about managing project risk shows readers how to make better decisions. The Money Anxiety Cure: A Path to Financial Wellness Koorosh Ostowari. Waterfront. $14.95 hardcover (183p), ISBN 9781939116369; $7.95 e-book Amazon As founder of Prosperity Today, the author has conducted workshops on mindfulness and money for several years. His book offers tools for helping others learn how to integrate their spiritual and material lives in order to attain prosperity in both. China CMO: Best Practice in Marketing Effectiveness & Efficiency in the Middle Kingdom Greg Paull and Goh ShuFen. Signal8 . $27.95 hardcover (350p), ISBN 9789881554239 Amazon; iBookstore; Barnes & Noble A book about marketing in China from the voices of practicing marketing leaders. Tiny Dynamo: How One of the World’s
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Killing Ideas: You Can Kill an Idea, You Can’t Kill an Opportunity! Pam Henderson. Pam Henderson. $17.95 paper (220p), ISBN 9780988984110 new-edge.com/killingideas Ideas alone may promise growth, but often don’t deliver. Recognizing opportunity is where growth lies, and this book will enable everyone to find the creativity and insight inherent in all of us, waiting to be tapped and brought to life for extraordinary success. Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society John Horvat II. York Press. $21.95 hardcover (400p), ISBN 9780988214804 returntoorder.org/buy An analysis of what went wrong in the modern economy focuses on how frenzied
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Smallest Countries Is Producing Some of Our Most Important Inventions Marcella Rosen. Untold News. $14.95 paper (138p), ISBN 9780988797307; $9.95 e-book ISBN 9780988797314 Amazon A fascinating collection of 21 stories detailing Israel’s inventions that benefit all of mankind, including drip irrigation, freezing breast tumors, and the flash drive. world of Match.com. The most surprising travails of her Match Men unfold through their live dialogue about love, women, and relationships. The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook Christina Brockett. Stella Maris Press. $14.95 paper (248p), ISBN 9780988937918; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9780988937901 Amazon; bn.com Presents stories and insights from a diverse group of parents on the taxing enterprise of child rearing. Funeral in a Feminine Dress: Depravity Reborn as Virtue MJ Burke, Sr. Michael Burke . $11.99 paper (267p), ISBN 9780989028714; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780989028707 Amazon A father’s loss of “true love” created a corrupted courtship that produced 34 years of abuse, pain, and depravity in a family. A son’s discovery of “true love” saved his life and inspired a loving, happy, family that achieved virtue. Kit and Kitty in Love: For When You Fall Head over Tails in Love W.C. Fielstra. Krkoska Creations. $34.99 hardcover (64p), ISBN 9780989122429; $5.99 e-book ISBN 9780989122412 Amazon Vividly imagined and hand-painted by the author, this ode to love is a picture book for adults illustrating romance and passion. Wise Courtship: A Must Have Guide Before Marriage or Any Relationship To n i H e n d e r s o n - M a y e r s . A u t h o rHouse. $14.95 paper (130p), ISBN 9781481749756; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781481749732 Amazon;, bn.com Challenging singles to choose wisely, this collection of the trade secrets of courting illustrates what to look for in a potential spouse, utilizing the author’s three-step system that unveils the true character of any love interest. Divinely Attuned: Using Brain Science, Psychology, and Spiritual Practice to Maximize Spirituality, Improve Intimacy, and Make Good Relationships Even Better Jacqueline Richard. Balboa Press. $11.99 paper (123p), ISBN 9781452559896; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9781452559902 (877) 407-4847 Richard integrates basic neuroscience principles with psychology and spiritual practice to help increase intimacy and enhance relationships. Twelve practice exercises for couples are included. Man Laws Revealed: One Man’s Insight on Love, Self-Improvement, Dating, Marriage, and Parenting Darrell Roberts. Full Spectrum Industries Publishing. $15.99 paper (204p), ISBN 9780989215800; $7.99 e-book ISBN 978098215817 ManLawsRevealed.com Roberts helps to identify and avoid repeating relationship mistakes by utilizing self-improvement measures to hold oneself accountable for one’s own decisions, happiness, and successes, from a faith-based perspective. The Laws of Attraction Michael Ross. AuthorHouse. $16.95 paper (212p), ISBN 9781481738699; $5 e-book ISBN 9781481738675 AuthorHouse; Amazon; Barnes & Noble This manual for discovering one’s potential rests on the premise that what the eyes see the mind considers; what the mind considers the heart accepts; and what the heart accepts the body does. Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives Ali Smith. Thunder Baby Press. $45 hardcover (160p), ISBN 9780988755109 MommaLoveTheBook.com Momma Love is a riveting look, through photographs and deeply personal stories, at the highs and lows of modern motherhood; winner of an
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Signs of the Tines: The Ultimate Astrological Cookbook Joan Porte. Soulsign. $24.95 paper (296p), ISBN 9780978853518 signsofthetines.com This cookbook combines personal astrology with a love for preparing and sharing delicious meals.
Get Your Child to the Top: Help Your Child Succeed at School and Life Megan Lisa Jones, foreward by Richard J. Riordan. Laernn. $13.99 paper (276p), ISBN 9780615763347 (310) 890-6798; laernn.com How do children succeed today? Interviews with CEOs, educators, venture capitalists, and children provide answers, and education and literacy are redefined for the future. Online resources at laernn.com supplement the book.
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
The Men of Match: Memoirs of a Cyber Dating Maven Nancy Beckons. Nancy Beckons. $19.95 paper (300p), ISBN 9780615701509; $5.99 e-book ISBN 9781623098056 themenofmatch.com; Barnes & Noble; retail stores Beckons takes us on a raucous ride through the crowded and colorful
Independent Publisher Book Award in Women’s Issues in 2013. Three by Moonlight: A Collection of Werewolf Tales J. Nelson Aviance. CreateSpace. $5.99 paper (68p), ISBN 9781484163375; $2.99 e-book Amazon An exploration of the lives of three men struggling to find what it means to be themselves in an often hostile supernatural world. Full Frontal: To Make a Long Story Short Tom Baker. iUniverse. $10.95 paper (117p), ISBN 9781475958263; $3.39 e-book ISBN 9781475958287 TomBakerBooks.com; Amazon; Barnes & Noble An intriguing glimpse into the life of a gay man, told through his eclectic relationships as he eventually discovers that true happiness is all about give and take. The Nothing Place Jesse Baker. Jesse A. Baker. $2.99 e-book (212p), ISBN 9780988875500 Amazon Kicked out of school, Max is shipped off to Los Angeles for rehab, but a night in West Hollywood may lead to his salvation. Hindsight Owen Banner. Owen Banner. $2.99 e-book (285p), ASIN B00DP7I2XC Amazon Shirley is a man with a family history of violence, shame, and loss, trying to put his life back together after getting out of prison. When a simple delivery goes wrong, Shirley becomes a fugitive, in league with a man who has connections to his grandfather and the IRA. Storyteller’s Rose Sebastian A. Barnes, illus. by Jordan Morris. CreateSpace. $17.63 paper (206p), ISBN 9781475245790 moralvignette.com/ The Vagabond questions what has not been wondered. The Storyteller enlists him as his understudy. Together, they travel to find the Vagabond’s purpose in a fantastical land. The Saeshell Book of Time, Part 1: The Death of Innocents Rusty Biesele. Createspace. $14.99 paper (299p), ISBN 9781463726379 Amazon Magic is science you don’t understand. Stefan, Tova, and friends begin a journey to discover who they really are. Are wizards and fairies aliens? Live at Five Larry Brill. Black Tie Books. $12.95 paper (326p), ISBN 9780988864313; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780988864306 Amazon A washed-up network news correspondent goes to hilarious lengths to resurrect his career in a smalltown TV news room. The Better Angel: A Climate of Betrayal Daniel Callaghan. Indomir Press. $15 paper (346p), ISBN 9780957613010; $3.19 e-book ISBN 9780957613010 Amazon As the Lincolns enter the White House in 1861, Western and unrefined, their lives and conflicts, both personal and political, come to life in a novel of betrayal and loyalty, and a nation struggling to survive. Kill Ratio Bryan Cassiday. CreateSpace. $17.99 paper (356p), ISBN 9781482767759 Amazon The end of America is near. A plague with a 100% kill ratio devastates the country, forcing the government to take drastic action. Tetterbaum’s Truth: Book One in the Just Call Me Angel series S.R.Claridge. Vanilla Heart. $14.99 paper (232p), ISBN 9780615813844; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9781452421582 Amazon Angel Martin finds herself in the middle of a revengeful scheme from a past she’s never known and a Mafia blackmail scandal that’s already left several dead. Racing to find answers, she discovers her entire life has been one carefully orchestrated lie.
From Finland with Love Ellie Alanko. Libra Publications. $10.99 paper (414p), ISBN 9780989427210; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780989427241 Amazon A tragicomic tale of a lonely young Finnish-American woman seeking love and belonging, whose quiet life steams up like a sauna when a cousin appears from Finland with a buddy. A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses S u s a n Wi t t i g A l b e r t . P e r s e v e r o Press. $14.99 paper (288p), ISBN 9780989203500 AWilderRoseTheNovel.com A fictionalized story of Rose Wilder Lane, who transformed her mother from an occasional writer into the world-famous author of the Little House books. I Know You’re There Susan Allison-Dean. Sea and Farm. $13.99 paper (234p), ISBN 9780578121413; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9781626754522 susanallisondean.com Nurse Jill Bradley struggles to handle the trauma and betrayal of her life after her car accident kills two parents, and while recovering from her injuries learns secrets her parents have kept for years. Illusions: Sometimes the Eyes See What the Heart Wants Chantilly Chanel Austin. Basin St. Books. $12.99 paper (346p), ISBN 9780985586102 Amazon; bn.com Beautiful, educated, and independent, Karyn finds her world spiraling out of control after she meets the love of her life, Thomas. In a relationship full of ups and downs, highs and lows, Karyn navigates through the illusion of the perfect life she’s created.
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Deadly Instinct K.E. Clark. Xlibris. $15.87 paper (338p), ISBN 9781479781195; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781479781218 bn.com A gripping suspense thriller that will draw readers into a complex web of deceit, blood, and passion as two couples are brought together by a fundamental human instinct—the desire for children—but find themselves embroiled in a dangerous scheme fueled by greed and avarice. Dying to Love Amanda Dolores Clay. Dolores Clay. $15 paper (233p), ISBN 9781466484740; $9.99 e-book Amazon; Smashwords Based on a 1994 murder case in Akron, Ohio, this is the chilling story of Amanda Rivers, who falls in love with controlling Mike DeWitt, then leaves him for another man who promises to protect her, while yet a third man develops a dangerous crush on her. Operation Saladin Roger Croft. Cassio Books International. $12.99 paper (258p), ISBN 9781482311693; $4.99 e-book Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Books-A-Million In pre–civil war Syria, former MI6 agent Michael Vaux comes in from the cold to help Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service persuade a dissident Syrian nuclear scientist to defect; a sequel to The Wayward Spy. Castles in the Sand Annie Daylon. McRac Books. $12.95 paper (247p), ISBN 9780986698019; $5.95 e-book Amazon Can an alcoholic, homeless man desperate to win back his wife and little boy really trust the Good Samaritan who vows to help him? The Boxed Angel Robert DiGiacomo. CreateSpace. $14.39 paper (422p), ISBN 9781482508765; $2.99 e-book Amazon; other online retailers An ancient relic is stolen from Benjamin Franklin’s home in 1776 and reappears in a sofa found in a dumpster in the present day. The man who finds it may have to save the world from a dangerous weapon in this fast-paced thriller. Ghosts of Royston Eric G. Dove. Eric G. Dove. $14.99 paper (256p), ISBN 9781482043969; $4.99 e-book ASIN B00C77O4E2 Amazon A paranormal thriller about soul-shaking loss, unrelenting fatherly devotion, and a teenage girl’s fight to survive in a bizarre
state of captivity. The Common Cure J.P. Farrell. Peppertree Press LLC. $22.95 paper (436p), ISBN 9781614931423; $5.99 e-book Amazon; bn.com A research scientist makes a profound decision to use an unproven experimental molecule on a young boy with a fatal cancer diagnosis. Nu Logic: Rise of the Neos Bill Gourgey. Jacked Arts. $19.95 paper (530p), ISBN 9780979743559 Amazon; other online bookstores Dr. Janot, an accomplished virologist, threatens the promising Glide era with his wildly popular augmented-reality game, Neology. Can genius inventor Captain Magigate stop him in time? The Fisherman’s Stamp Ian Greenham. Dog Ear Publishing. $10.99 paper (296p), ISBN 9781457515354; $7.99 e-book ISBN 9781457517303 Amazon Based on real medical science, this novel speculates on how greed brings intrigue to the thrilling global race for a cure for radiation sickness. University John William Grisham. Aloha Lounge Press. $16.50 paper (408p), ISBN 9780988960404; $3.99 e-book alohaloungepress.com A four-year odyssey through undergraduate life in the Reagan era chronicles the antics of a tight-knit group of dormmates at an urban New England university headed by an ambitious, autocratic president on a quest for greatness. Glass House 51 John Hampel. Bzff Books. $19.95 paper (432p), ISBN 9780962799228; $3.99 e-book Amazon; bn.com A hyperambitious marketing whiz at AlphaBanc is assigned to chat up brilliant Christin Darrow at the online NEXSX, in an attempt to trap the computer genius known as the Gnome, a former AlphaBanc employee and murder suspect. This combination of 1984 and Brave New World offers a preview of a world moving toward oblivion. The Pepsi Signs James Hansen. Inkwater Press. $22.95 paper (642p), ISBN 9781592999040; $2.99 e-book ASIN B00C32MC5O Amazon;, Powells.com; bn.com This urban thriller brings together a disparate collection of people—a young woman who’s uncovered a bank scam, real estate developers, a man who’s killed a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia, a Special Forces soldier, and an FBI agent—on a Queens, N.Y., street for moment of death and redemption. The Six Train to Wisconsin Kourtney Heintz. Createspace. $15.99 paper (433p), ISBN 9781481884570; $4.50 e-book ISBN 9780989132619 bn.com Oliver brings his telepathic wife to the hometown he abandoned, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future. Havana Lost Libby Fischer Hellmann. The Red Herrings Press. $16.99 paper (300p), ISBN 9781938733383; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9781938733390 (847) 441-9194 A thriller spans three generations of a Mafia family and tracks the rise of a female Mafia head, in this tale largely set in Cuba. The Prodigal Michael Hurley. Ragbagger Press. $14.99 paper (358p), ISBN 9781482694277; $2.99 e-book Amazon In this allegorical tale set on Ocracoke Island, N.C., a disillusioned lawyer learns that his fate is tied to a mysterious schooner found adrift on the Outer Banks. The Transhumanist Wager Zoltan Istvan. Futurity Imagine Media LLC. $9.95 paper (298p), ISBN 9780988616110; $2.99 e-book Amazon A “transhumanist,” in his quest for immortality through science and technology, establishes a new nation in a “seasteading” project, which triggers conflict from fanatical religious groups and economically depressed governments. The author is a philosopher, entrepreneur, and former correspondent for the National Geographic and New York Times. Knightfall: Book 1 of the Chronicle of Benjamin Knight R Jackson-Lawrence. $11.43 (£6.99) paper (311p), ISBN 9781909425163; $2.99 (£1.95) e-book ISBN 9781909425187 jackson-lawrence.com Lord of the Rings for the Call of Duty generation: a 15-year-old’s experiment is sabotaged. He finds himself in another world where uneasy peace exists, and he and his companions seek to prevent war. Above and Beyond: A Novel of the Civil War Jessica James. Patriot Press. $14.99 paper (205p), ISBN 9780979600098; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9780979600081 jessicajamesbooks.com A romantic tale of two people—Confederate spy Sarah Duvall and cavalry commander Douglas Benton—are thrown together by war and torn apart by destiny. The author has won the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award. The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout William E. Jefferson. Port Estillyen Productions. $18.95 paper (296p), ISBN 978095662127; $9.99 e-book ISBN 978098566234 estillyen.com Searching for peace and inspiration, Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze travel to the Isle of Estillyen—a distant harbor known for bringing ancient words of worth to the present—where their lives become unexpectedly and inseparably intertwined
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with the reclusive Oban Ironbout. The Ecstasy Norman John. CreateSpace. $26.95 paper (828p), ISBN 9781482561739; $9.95 e-book theecstasythenovel.com In a spectacular and thrilling adventure on a space cruise ship to Saturn, characters are having the time of their lives until something goes terribly wrong. Kooriime: Elves in the City L.A. Jones. Abbott Press. $33.99 paper (541p), ISBN 9781458209238; $7.99 e-book ISBN 9781458209214 bn.com; Amazon When seven Elves are stolen from their homes and taken to New York City in this contemporary fantasy, they are set adrift in a world they don’t know. Despite their best efforts to fit in, they introduce an otherworldly quality to everyday life. The second book in the Kooriime series. The Flames of Soyombo: Book One in the Daughters of the Sky Series S.S. Jordan. Sheila S. Jordan. $4.99 e-book ISBN 9781938859144 kobobooks.com A direct descendant of the Golden Family, teenager Autumn Murphy confronts her destiny and uses her newfound elemental powers to heal her community and herself. The Rule of Ranging, Book One: Eclipse of the Midnight Sun Timothy M. Kestrel. Timothy Kestrel Arts & Media Inc. $32.95 hardcover (315p), ISBN 9780988666009; $9.95 e-book ISBN 9780988666016 Barnes & Noble; Amazon; others This historical novel follows young Finn from his Scandinavian homeland to the ranks of the Rangers in the new America. Absolute Truth Bill Larkin. William Larkin. $2.99 e-book ISBN 9780989400206 Amazon; Bookwire What if a scientist invented a 100% accurate lie detector, then somebody killed him and the technology disappeared? Promises My Love DL Larson. DogEar Publishing. $13.95 paper (206p), ISBN 9781457519413 Ingram; Baker & Taylor; Barnes & Noble In this sequel to Promises to Keep, Francis struggles with family intimacies from his abusive childhood. His wife, Christine, shows him that trust and love can overcome anything. But when his family intervenes, Francis again aches for revenge. Gem: The Season of Prophecy Victoria Leeman. SBPRA. $16.95 paper (310p), ISBN 9781612049434 sbpra.com/victorialeeman/ The 10th-century heroic fantasy tells of protector gods, the African Jaba tribes, and the vile armies of Hell in their epic battle for Earth. Along the Watchtower David Litwack. Double Dragon Publishing. $16.99 paper (214p), ISBN 9781771150972; $5.99 e-book Amazon Lt. Freddie Williams plays World of Warcraft to escape family misfortunes and the war in Iraq. When an IED ends his real war, he faces battles on two levels: his dreams, in which he becomes Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, and the real world, where physical therapy helps him learn to walk again. Come as You Aren’t Linda London. Aeolus Ltd. $3.99 e-book (365p) ASIN B00CDZFH2Q Amazon Framed for fraud by a money laundering co-worker, an airline executive races to prove her innocence, finding romance and fortune along the way. A Fag for Her Fifties: A Fabulous Fairy Tale B MacGregor. AnyWho Editions. $17.95 paper (262p), ISBN 9780983305828 www.anywhoeditions.com Everyone has a closet and a time to come out of it. It’s time for Beulah Mae. Enter B and his fabulous fairy tale magic. The Bridge Rebecca Rogers Maher. Promised Land Books. $1.99 e-book (79p), ISBN 9781625390486 RebeccaRogersMaher.com Henry and Christa meet as each is about to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Is it too late, or can they convince each other to live? Stray Cats Geoffrey Mehl. Pennystone Books. $14.95 paper (332p), ISBN 9780615642796; $3.99 e-book Amazon; geoffmehl.com Snared in an elaborate trap, three imperfect, old-school, discarded spies must team up to solve a mystery, foil a conspiracy, and steal an illicit fortune. A Skeptic’s Luck A.D. Morel. Maine Authors Publishing & Cooperative. $16.95 paper (289p), ISBN 9781938883385 maineauthorspublishing.com Botanist and widow Maxine is having the worst summer of her life, five years after novelist Lewis was lost on 9/11. When daughter Eva sees Lewis at the airport, could he be alive? Deltan Skies Noah Murphy. CreateSpace. $10.99 paper (280p), ISBN 9781483941615; $2.99 e-book Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Smashwords A race of outlaw birds rebel against a city that denies them existence, and an elf and her eccentric colleagues stand in their way. Goddess Legacy M.W. Muse. Penning Princess Publishing. $13.99 paper (360p), ISBN 9780988213043; $0.00 e-book ISBN 9780988213012 Amazon An average teen discovers she’s going to be a goddess, but the legacy she wants might not be the legacy she is destined to have. Wrapped: The First Ever Musical Novel Dennis A. Nehamen, music and lyrics by
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Craig M. Nehamen, music produced by Evan J. Beigel. Musical Novels Press. $14.95 paper (355p), ISBN 9780989057202; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9780989057226 any online bookseller After a devastating knockout blow, Benny Wright, family man and performer, concocts a noble but absurd plan to atone for a dream that’s crashed. Spunk, a Fable Helen O’Reilly. CreateSpace. $14.99 paper (305p), ISBN 9781483979878; $ e-book ASIN B00CUPYIUQ Amazon Amid a great forest that covers postapocalyptic New York City, a group of women survivors establishes a community dedicated to strictly Amazonian principles, turning any men who enter their domain into reproductive fodder—and when that’s done, dinner. Rivka’s War Marilyn Oser. Mill City Press. $14.95 paper (274p), ISBN 9781626520509 Amazon; bn.com; marilynoser.com Russia, 1917. Rivka Lefkovits, a bootmaker’s daughter, joins an all-female battalion and endures trials and mishaps that will take her thousands of miles from home; based on real events. Graffiti Joanie Pariera. AuthorHouse. $8.99 e-book (346p), ISBN 9781477295090 Amazon; bn.com Set in India and the U.S., here is a sensual, tragic sexomedy concerning three young techies in one unusual love story. Keep Your Enemies Closer Richard Parker. CreateSpace. $15.50 paper (325p), ISBN 9781481154666; $5 e-book ISBN 9781623476526 Amazon; bn.com A corporate thriller about Wall Street, the City of London, and Hollywood. The Cirque Martin Van Pelt. CreateSpace. $13.99 paper (514p), ISBN 9781470098872; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781623458867 Amazon; independent bookstores An adventure novel relates 72 years of two friends’ lives, from 1960 to 2032, as it also spans two continents, from Colombia to the Colorado high country. The Case of the Golden Orchid R o d n e y C h r i s t i a n P o w e r. C r e ateSpace. $16.99 paper (335p), ISBN 9781478358046; $2.96 e-book Amazon A rash of mystifying murders prompts NYPD detective Lt. Charlie Bannerman to join forces with orchid specialist Sam Bloom as they head off to Madagascar. Captain Mullet and the Compass Rose Joel Ratner. Indrio Press. 99¢ e-book ISBN 9781617925283 captainmullet.com Captain Henry was quite content in his bridge house, pecking out his great American novel at a broken typewriter and trying to ignore the world around him. But along comes Eddie Eye as his new apprentice and Henry’s world is capsized. Chump Rusty Reeves. Reeves Publications. $TBA paper (TBAp), ISBN 9780989414012; $TBA e-book ISBN 9780989414005 online bookstores A mordant satire of race and class relations, set in a Texas medical school. Playing with Fire Edited by Juliana Rew. Third Flatiron Publishing. $2.99 e-book (96p), ISBN 9781301460366 Amazon An anthology of science fiction and fantasy containing cautionary tales of fires and backfires, culture clashes, evil empires, meteors, capricious gods and vengeful spirits, voracious foodstuffs, zombie children, and man’s best friend. My Summer on Haight Street Robert Rice Jr. Fox Point Publishing. $14.99 paper (288p), ISBN 9780615767581 Amazon It’s 1967, the Summer of Love in San Francisco. With the Vietnam War raging, three Milwaukee high school graduates set off on different paths to seek their destinies. Angelfish Suzanne Richardson. CreateSpace. $12 paper (282p), ISBN 9781482050462; $9.70 e-book ISBN 9781630015527 Amazon Three humanitarian aid workers—a doctor and daughter of a Holocaust survivor; a missionary with a terrible secret; and a divorced steelworker—are each caught up in good intentions gone awry during the siege of Sarajevo. Slouching Towards Kowloon Alison Ripley. Alison Ripley. 99¢ e-book (220p), ASIN B00CLRA3QG Amazon A cyberpunk dystopian thriller pictures Hong Kong in the grip of the Revelation virus, which kills within hours. Ruby is immune, but she must fight for survival against those who think her blood will be their cure. China Rock Laura Kelly Robb. Mark House Publishing. $12.99 paper (262p), ISBN 9780988949607; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9780988949614 markhousepublishing.com Pop’s disappearance at the height of the Depression leaves his oldest son, Augie, to feed the family and track down his connection to two corpses. The Lemrow Mystery Mary Jo Robertiello. Mary Jo Robertiello. $11.16 paper (396p), ISBN 9780988885011; $2.99 e-book ISBN 9780900005004 Amazon; bn.com Three murders are committed in five days at New York City’s most pretigious museum, and demoted Detective Kulchek is assigned to the case.
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Shadows of Truth Angie Robinson. Arro Press. $12.95 paper (262p), ISBN 9780989024303; $2.99 e-book ISBN 9780989024310 Amazon; arropress.com Drea Hartman, suburban mom and Bible study teacher, is beset with longsuppressed memories that send her into a downward spiral of rage and revenge that
wreaks havoc on her marriage, threatens her faith, and tests her inner strength as she
Waiting on the Sidelines Ginger Scott. Ginger Scott. $2.99 (335p) e-book ISBN 9780615788746 Amazon An emotional and character-driven coming-of-age romance follows Nolan, an awkward teen girl with a boy’s name, through high school as she struggles with bullies and falling in love with the flawedyet-popular hometown quarterback. Tell Carrie Secor. CreateSpace. $12.99 paper (278p), ISBN 9781480107519; $2.99 e-book ASIN B00BA2Z7O6 Amazon You might bluff or you might fold, but once the cards are dealt, everyone has a tell. Trust: A New Beginning Cristiane Serruya. CreateSpace. $17.99 paper (393p), ISBN 9781480236295; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9781630023270 Amazon; bn.com This first in a series introduces Sophia, Ethan, and Alistair. Strong-willed and successful, they have everything but love. In Europe, in the months after October 2009, their paths cross and clash. Who will win the prize of love? Trust: Betrayed Cristiane Serruya. CreateSpace. $17.99 paper (550p), ISBN 9781482586473; $9.99 e-book Amazon The second installment of the Trust series journeys back into the past of Sophia, Ethan, and Alistair to reveal their secrets and dark deeds. They will have to overcome their guilt, fear, and pain and learn to see themselves through forgiving eyes. Neworld Papers: Series 1: The Historian’s Tale KB Shaw. iPulpFiction.com. $9.50 (312p), ISBN 978-1490515632; $2.99 e-book ISBN 9780982809099 Amazon; iPulpFiction.com When young Fallon is torn from his sheltered life, he is drawn into a subversive group where he becomes a chronicler
of discoveries that threaten to destroy the social fabric of his world. Not For Profit Glenn Shepard, M.D. Mystery House Publishing, Inc. $17.96 paper (248p), ISBN 9780615765525Amazon A renowned plastic surgeon charged with murder must prove his innocence after two bodies are found at his surgery center. A Warm Place to Call Home: A Demon’s Story Michael Siemsen. Fantome Publishing. $14.95 paper (244p), ISBN 9780983446972; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780983446958 Ingram; Amazon; Barnes & Noble, iBookstore; Kobo Frederick is a demon who takes over other people’s lives. But when he takes over the life of Melanie’s boyfriend, he begins to evolve into a “human.” In the Shadow of a Pale Horse Mark Smith. CreateSpace. $15.95 paper (440p), ISBN 9781478399995; $6.99 e-book ISBN 9781623468033 Amazon In a small town, a vengeful necromancer sets in motion a series of events that will one day lead to the end of all mankind. Partners Andy Solomon. BookBaby. $8.99 e-book (334p), ISBN 9781626752962 Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Sony; iBookstore; Kobo Artist Mark Hollander discovers lovely Holly McIvey stealing his morning newspaper. Larceny quickly blossoms into marriage and a baby that Mark will raise alone. The Birr Elixir: Book 1 of the Legend of the Gamesmen Jo Sparkes. Oscar Press. $8 paper (180p), ISBN 9780985331832; 99¢ e-book ISBN 9780985331818 Amazon A young apprentice makes a mysterious elixir from a recipe in an old book, and
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struggles to overcome and surmount the burden of her past. The Dudley Files: Sold Out Without the Holdout Cary Robinson. Golden Hound Press. $15.95 paper (257p), ISBN 9780989060004; $7 e-book dudleyfiles.com A young man named Careless adopts an SPCA hound dog, Dudley. Along with a host of eclectic friends, they solve a mystery at a Houston rodeo. Corr Syl the Warrior Garry Rogers. CreateSpace. $14.95 paper (262p), ISBN 9781484989890; $3.99 e-book ASIN B00CYT082U Amazon On an Earth on which intelligence evolved long before humans appeared, tensions are rising between humans and the ancient multispecies Tsaeb civilization. Color of Lies Abbe Rolnick. Sedro Publishing. $14.95 paper (248p), ISBN 9780984511914 abberolnick.com; Ingram; Amazon Near the Pacific Northwest wilderness, four victims of a toxic waste coverup must face their own “white lies” to stop the perpetrator. Straight Out of Lewis Carroll’s Trash Can: A Jonathan Tollhausler Adventure Michael J. Rumpf. Spielplatz Novelties . $14.99 paper (386p), ISBN 9780615398082 Amazon Five life-changing days in 1983 help Jonathan Tollhausler decide whether college, like sex, is really necessary.
is suddenly the talisman for a daring Gamesman—and the weapon in the conspiracy against a prince. Heirs & Spares J.L. Spohr. Plum Street Press. $14.99 paper (262p), ISBN 9780989217316; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780989217323 online and through booksellers In 16th-century Troixden, on the verge of civil war, William doesn’t want to be king, and Annelore doesn’t want to be his queen, yet duty and honor just might lead them to love and a path to peace. Life Erupted Mary Stanik. Mary Stanik. $11.99 paper (222p), ISBN 9780988390003; $2.99 e-book ASIN B009XSYB3W Amazon A Minneapolis medical center spokeswoman learns about family secrets—and herself—thanks to a psychic patient, her father, and a trip to an Icelandic volcano. Reader: Daughter of Time: Book 1 Erec Stebbins. Twice Pi Press. $24.99 hardcover (312p), ISBN 9780989000444; 99¢ e-book ISBN 9780989000420 Amazon; bn.com Seventeen-year-old Ambra Dawn is enslaved after her parents’ murder, turned into a monster, and becomes a messiah, leading a galactic rebellion; by author of The Ragnarok Conspiracy. The Well Sharon Sterling. Changing Lines Press LLC. $9.99 paper (230p), ISBN 9781481224505; $4.99 e-book ISBN 9780615752594 Amazon; bn.com Montezuma Well, an ancient Native American cliff dwelling in Arizona, provides the backdrop for murder in this present-day tale. Allie Davis is a troubled psychotherapist trapped between wouldbe executioners and an evil that threatens three lives. Theseus Grayson J. Stevens. CreateSpace. $19.99 paper (424p), ISBN 9781483930787 Amazon Theseus is a successful corporate securities lawyer in a prestigious law firm, but ancient themes of wealth, power, fate, and justice are exposed in a tale that lays bare the erosion of nobility and ethics in a profession increasingly measured by profit. Ripper: A Love Story Lance Taubold and Richard Devin. 13Thirty Books. $12.99 paper (290p), ISBN 9780615794112; $2.99 e-book ASIN B00CEN9O62 13thirtybooks.com; Amazon; bn.com Coren Butler has captured the heart of Prince Edward Albert Victor, in a perfect Cinderella story. Then on August 30, 1888, in Whitechapel, the most notorious murderer in history claims his first victim. Could the man Coren loves be Jack the Ripper? Theo’s Tricks: And Other Greek Yarns William E. Tudor. GrecoPress. $12.95 paper (163p), ISBN 9781481946162 (253) 445-1347; Amazon In this retelling of Greek myth, Cora is kidnapped, and her mother, Demi, accompanied by another daughter, Sophia, sets out to find Cora. Uncle Theo helps by leaving tricky and unexpected clues, but when they find Cora, she is not the same person. Ironsides’ Peril: A Zach Colt Adventure Michael D. Urban. IGTBA Enterprises. $18.99 paper (392p), ISBN 9780985359928; $6.99 e-book ISBN 9780985359935 Amazon Ruthless Iran-backed terrorists have hijacked the U.S.S. Constitution . Now it’s time for Zach Colt to rescue “Old Ironsides” and save the city of Boston from destruction. Running for Yellow Christina Varrasso. CreateSpace. $15.99 paper (292p), ISBN 9780615715841 runningforyellow.com; Amazon In this coming-of-age novel, Chiara breaks a promise to her Italian immigrant father that she would complete her education before marrying. But her life is upended when she’s forced to question her new husband’s fidelity. Blending humor, drama, and suspense, this tale reveals the restoring nature of family, love, and faith. The Roche Limit Jonas Vesterberg. Exilio Press. $16.95 paper (244p), ISBN 9780615801452; $8.99 e-book ISBN 9780615831251 therochelimit.com A bigoted intelligence operative deals with demons from his past and the end of white America as he tries to foil a terror plot. Deceit: A Pete Thorsen Mystery Robert Wangard. Ampersand Inc. $17.95 paper (312p), ISBN 9781467545235; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9781467545242 Amazon; bn.com; Ingram What do you do when a former lover turns up dead, and you discover everything she told you was a lie? That question burns in Pete Thorsen’s mind and as he searches for an answer, he finds himself caught up in a much wider and deadlier game. Animeat’s End: A Future History of the End of Animal Meat Wilson J. Warren. AuthorHouse. $19.95 paper (254p), ISBN 9781477279212; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781477279434 AuthorHouse; Amazon; Barnes&Noble; In the 22d century, human dominion over animals has been eliminated. Eating animal meat—animeat—is a crime. What happens when one man challenges this moral order?
Vegas and the Mob: Forty Years of Frenzy Al W. Moe. CreateSpace. $12.95 paper (182p), ISBN 9781483955551; $4.95 e-book ASIN B00C7YDLIU Amazon
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L a s Ve g a s w a s t h e Mob’s greatest venture and most spectacular success. Through 40 years of frenzy, murder, deceit, scams, and skimming, the FBI watched, listened in on phone taps, and did little. The author has written two other books about Nevada’s casinos Mighty Men of Valor: With Charley Company on Hill 714, Vietnam, 1970 John G. Roberts. CreateSpace. $9.89 paper (270p), ISBN 9781477563939; $2.99 e-book Amazon The author served as an infantry sergeant in the famous 101st Airborne Division in 1970 during the last big American-led battles of the Vietnam War. Comes a Soldier’s Whisper: A Collection of Wartime Letters with Reflection and Hope for the Future Jenny La Sala. Trafford. $15.90 paper (238p), ISBN 978-1466976863; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781466976870 Amazon This collection of wartime letters written by a 101st Airborne paratrooper during WWII reflects the sentiments of soldiers today, a must-read for every American. (307p), ISBN 9780991807932; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9780991807901 Amazon Drop into the world of girls’ freestyle BMX (bicycle motocross stunt riding) for a summer road trip to qualifying competitions. A highadrenaline read about rivalries, rejection, wipeouts, and girls who shred. Ages 12–up. GreenBean: True Blue Family Elizabeth Blake. Nisse Press LLC. $12.99 paper (50p), ISBN 9781938627002 Amazon GreenBean worries that she doesn’t belong to her family because she is different, but her blind brother assures her that appearances don’t affect the family bond. A story of differences and belonging. Ages 4–8. The Dream Hiker K. Chapa. CreateSpace. $12.99 paper (274p), ISBN 9781482758801; $8.99 e-book ISBN 9780989082204 Amazon Seventeen-year-old Jack Treole discovers his dreams may be more real than he had thought. With two new friends, he is pulled into adventures in exotic places and a mysterious quest‚ which changes how he views reality, life, and the world. Ages 12–up. Mary Baker and the Eye of the Tiger D.M. Cherubim. CreateSpace. $12.99 paper (230p), ISBN 9781482659696; $5.99 e-book Amazon Mary Baker’s bullied by her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend is a redneck plumber. But a mysterious flock of birds follows her and she gets anonymous gifts in the mail. When she finds the stone called the Eye of the Tiger, she’s swept into a new life at a school for white magic. Ages 6–12. Speeding Down the Spiral: An Artful Adventure Deborah Goodman Davis, illus. by Sophy N a e s s . D G D FA . $ 1 5 . 9 5 hardcover (48p), ISBN 9780985556808 speedingdownthespiral.com A rollicking tale set at the Guggenheim Museum, filled with beautiful art, colorful illustrations, and madcap adventure. Ages 3–6. Fraturtles Keith Greenstein. CreateSpace. $4.99 (28p), ISBN 9781482609882 Amazon A fraternal twin turtle comes to understand what being a twin is really all about. Ages 3–6. Yawn! Keith Greenstein. CreateSpace. $9.72 paper (28p), ISBN 9781484851708 Amazon Kids will love this account of how to stay awake at bedtime, which secretly will have them yawning like a crazy yawnertype person in no time. Ages 3–6. The Carnelian Legacy Cheryl Koevoet. WestBow Press. $22.95 paper (320p), ISBN 9781449780890; $5.99 e-book ISBN 9781449780883 CarnelianLegacy.com Marisa MacCallum, amost 18, finds herself hurled into another world after her father’s death. There, she faces an impossible choice: marry the enemy of the man she loves or betray them both and become the catalyst for a bloody war. Ages 12–up. The Inner Light Henry Porada, illus. by Lisa J. Michaels. Sleepytown Press. $12.99 paper (32p), ISBN 9781937260989 henryporada.com Jimmy grieves the loss of his grandfather. In searching for the meaning of the light, he discovers the nature of his grandfather’s life and his own role in a new generation. Ages 6–12. A Medal for My Grandmother Anne Stapleton, illus. by Dwain Esper. AuthorHouse. $19.99 paper (28p), ISBN
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HOUSE & HOME
Dream Home: What You Need to Know Before You Buy Anthony Alofsin. InnerformsLtd.com. $25.99 (150p), ISBN 9780982063033; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9780982063040 Amazon; InnerformsLtd.com The consumer’s guide that helps you through the process of buying a home and explains everything from the key players in the housing business to interior design choices and architectural styles.
Shredded Karen Avivi. Karen Avivi. $12.99 paper
9781481710268 Amazon; AuthorHouse.com; bn.com Granny gets up early every morning to work. Her grandchildren admire her dedication, and one of them presents her with a gift. Ages 3–6. The Surround Sounds of Music: The Musical Adventures of Professor Anacrusis, Book One Chrissy Tetley, illus. by Theresa Burns. Music on the Bookshelf. $15. paper (52p), ISBN 9780987296818; $3.99 e-book musiconthebookshelf.com; bn.com; Amazon Three Australian bush animals ponder what music is (“is it more than just noise?”) as they learn from Professor Anacrusis about classical musical instruments and the sounds all around us. Ages 5–12. The Dragons of Pan Gu Kevin White. Chimeric Press. $15.95 hardcover (40p), ISBN 9780984712267 chimericpress.com In this retelling of a Chinese creation myth, opposites struggle to achieve balance, yet a wise grandfather discovers balance is a gift best given. Ages 3–6. After Isaac Avra Wing. Olinville Press. $8.99 (224p), ISBN 9780615669465; $6.99 e-book ISBN 9781630031275 Amazon Aaron Saturn, 16, learns that the true escape from grief over the loss of his little brother, Isaac, comes from letting love back in his life. Ages 12–up. The Hissing Tree A.M. Winter. CreateSpace. $12.98 paper (362p), ISBN 978-1-4637-2797-0; $9.99 e-book Amazon; bn.com A coming-of-age tale in summer 1952 Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) chronicles the experiences of 11-year-old tomboy Nicole “Nick” Doughty, which can be innocent fun or traumatic, as she witnesses social injustice and confronts life and death. Ages 12–up.
Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel Stephanie Sorkin, illus. by Tim Warren. Mascot Books. $14.95 hardcover (36p), ISBN 9781620861585 Amazon; bn.com Nutley, an adorable squirrel, doesn’t let his nut allergy slow him down. Join him on his journey to stay healthy with help from friends. All proceeds will be donated to Food Allergy Research and Education. Ages 4–8. The Amazing Adventures of Emerson the Colorful Caterpillar from A to Z JoAnn Thomas, illus. by Jason Hilton. AuthorHouse. $16.24 paper (172p), ISBN 9781481749497; $3.49 e-book Amazon; bn.com Emerson goes on adventures through a set of red alphabet books as their characters come to life. Ages 6–12.
exercises will guide women of all ages and from all walks of life to empower themselves and embody their soul’s purpose. Greek Alphabet: Unlock the Secrets Catherine R. Proppe. Catherine R. Proppe. $12.95 paper (184p), ISBN 9781940274485 GreekAlphabeta.com; (734) 788-2163 This guide to the Greek alphabet vividly illustrates the symbolism in the Greek alphabet and how Greek letters create meaning. Kiss and Tell: Secrets of Sexual Desire from Women 15 to 97 Anne Rodgers with Maureen Whelihan, M.D.. Soft Spot Press. $18.95 paper (363p), ISBN 9780988533103; $9.95 e-book Amazon Based on 1,300 surveys and 100 personal interviews, this is a decadeby-decade look at how women’s sexual desire evolves throughout their lifetime.
The Eternal Argument: A Framework for Understanding Western Literature and Culture R. Robin Finley. Analytical Grammar Inc. $29.95 paper (286p), ISBN 9780984601103 eternalargument.com With humor and examples from literature and history, this book makes reading great literature, and understanding history and culture, a much more meaningful endeavor.
An Angel Named Jake Margaret Hentz. CreateSpace. $12.95 paper (62p), ISBN 9781481864596; $4.99 e-book ASIN B00CWM4GFY Amazon The true story of a Labrador retriever, Jake, and the positive, loving, and lasting impact he had on the lives he touched.
MIND, BODY & SPIRIT
Tending to Your Inner Garden: A Woman’s Journey Towards Wholeness Catherine Maguire. McZine Publishing Ltd. $8.99 paper (336p), ISBN 9780957419803; $5.99 e-book ISBN 9780957419827 Amazon The author is a soul reader, shaman, tantrica, and writer living in Ireland who has visited sacred sites around the world. Her stories and
The ‘Mens Only’ Book of Toilet Trivia Wally Zubric (Walter Stevens-Hofer). Xlibris. $15.99 paper (108p), ISBN 9781465301277; $3.99 e-book Amazon A crass, unsophisticated, and thoroughly putrid book that is not for people of fragile sensibilities, which takes the reader on an irreverent journey to the far reaches of perversity and vulgarity.
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Elite Etiquette Dawn Bryan. CreateSpace. $23 paper (312p), ISBN 9781479290987 Amazon This informative guide provides the reader with the social behaviors needed to communicate within various social and business cultures. Wild Money: A Visual Journey to Financial Wisdom Luna Jaffe. Fortunity Press. $25 paper (330p), ISBN 9781624074370 Amazon; Ingram; lunajaffe.com An artist, therapist, and certified financial planner brings her skills together to offer a compassionate guide for exploring one’s relationship with money, taking readers on a financial journey that is creative, practical, and intuitive. From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption Deanna Kahler. CreateSpace. $14.95 paper (212p), ISBN 9781481986656; $8.99 e-book Amazon Follow one woman’s heartfelt journey from the pain of miscarriages to the joy of becoming a parent through adoption. Religion, People, and God: An Unorthodox Vision of an Expatriate from the Former U.S.S.R. Michael Kleenoff. Xlibris. $20.53 paper (528p), ISBN 9781483626079; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781483626093 (888) 795-4274; Amazon Religion is not evil, just childishly naïve. People are evil, yet it is not their well-thought-out desire either—at least, not all. Does that mean that our belief in God was (un)intentionally skewed? Manhasset Stories: A Baby Boomer Looks Back Suzanne McLain Rosenwasser. Manhasset Times Media Group. $8.99 paper (68p), ISBN 978-0-615-52311-8; $3.99 e-book Amazon Tender stories about a well-loved, North Shore Long Island town that grew up alongside the baby boomers who roamed its streets. Dogs with No Names: In Pursuit of Courage, Hope, and Purpose Judith Samson-French, D.V.M. Meerkat Media. $24.95 paper (300p), ISBN 9780991724000 (403) 949-3259 A look at the true nature of dogs living between two worlds. In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics, and Human Action L.K. Samuels. Cobden Press. $19.95 (411p), ISBN 9781935942054 lksamuels.com This study of chaos theory and complexity science from a political and socioeconomic perspective breaks new ground over why structured order is subordinate to chaos. The Year After Ashley Warner. CreateSpace. $TBA paper (TBAp), ISBN 9781489557827; $TBA e-book ISBN TBA TBA An inspiring memoir that weaves a devastatingly intimate account of the aftermath of rape with reflections from early childhood and beyond in search of identity. Zubulake’s e-Discovery: The Untold Story of My Quest for Justice Laura A. Zubulake. Laura A. Zubulake. $25.95 paper (230p), ISBN 9780985064006; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9780985064013 LauraZubulake.com; Amazon An inspirational account of a woman standing on principle, defending her rights, persevering against a formidable Wall Street opponent, and achieving vindication, accountability, and justice. low After Amelia Kay Hamilton-Morris. AuthorHouse. $14.99 paper (100p), ISBN 9781468595123 AuthorHouse; Amazon; Google; Barnes & Noble This collection of poems is about the experiences that shape our lives, before and after God’s redemptive work. Hellfires of Grief: Love Poems C. Eldon Taylor. CreateSpace. $16 paper (362p), ISBN 9780615814667 Amazon In this collection of poems written after “the disembodiment of my beloved,” a psychotherapist converts his grief into words as part of his healing and shares his work to help others heal.
Helmsman Ruler: China’s Pragmatic Version of Plato’s Ideal Political Succession System in ‘The Republic’ Keith K.C. Hui. Trafford Publishing Singapore. $20 paper (170p), ISBN 9781466935297; $4 e-book ISBN 9781466935310 Amazon China is institutionalizing Plato’s ideal rotational political succession system pragmatically and experimentally with purposively trained rulers, to establish an openyet-authoritarian state in the 21st century. The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support Andrew Levison. Democratic Strategist Press. $12 paper (302p), ISBN 9780692019795 thewhiteworkingclasstoday.com Challenges the many stereotypes about the white working class and provides a roadmap for Democrats and progressives seeking to win their support Middle Way: Freedom and Progressive Social Change Since World War II Ala n Ra binowitz . Q ua ns oo Pr es s .
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TimelessTruth: For the Sisters Who Came Before Us and Those Who Fol-
$18 paper (226p), ISBN 9781481944588; $9 e-book ISBN 978481944588 Amazon; Barnes & Noble The politics and economics of how America’s world was reshaped in the 1940s and how today’s ideological rifts emerged over the ensuing 70 years. 9780988253902 thebest10years.com Bruer has turned his 20-year calendar and plan into a system for success and well-being that anyone can follow to utilize dreams, goals, and long-term planning to achieve one’s best. Be a Critical Thinker: Hone Your Mind to Think Critically Donald L. Karshner. Bullen Publishing Services. $8.99 paper (105p), ISBN 9780615783741; $2.99 e-book Amazon; other online retailers Offers a clear process for applying critical thinking skills in order to scrutinize ideas, facts, and interpretations and intelligently critique what you read and hear. The Life Cycles Revolution: Travel Further—Learn More Neil Killion. SBPRA. $22.97 paper (372p), ISBN 9781618971111 bn.com The biographies of famous people are examined to reveal the evidence for 12-year cycles in everyone’s life. Bridging science and the occult, this work will guide readers in every facet of their lives, including romance, relationships, and career. IHood: Our GPS for Living Dr. Jill Little. WestBow Press. $30.95 hardcover (182p), ISBN 9781449783082 (323) 620-1986 An informative guide to pursuing a life complete with purpose, spirituality, and self-awareness. The Ultimate Job-Seeker’s Guide Robb Mulberger. Dog Ear Publishing. $14.95 paper (146p), ISBN 9781457517563; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9781457518782 jobseekersguide.net; Amazon; bn.com An employment specialist with more than 40 years of experience gives job seekers a straightforward tool they can use. Friend in Your Pockets: Conversations Session One Qwana M. “BabyGirl” Reynolds-Frasier. Friend in Your Pocket Inc. $14.99 paper (271p), ISBN 9780989276917; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9780989276900 iBookstore; Smashwords; Amazon A New York social worker offers guidance on how to be one’s own “Friend in Your Pocket,” finding deeper personal connections and fulfillment in oneself; she calls herself “Your Spirit Lifter and Personal Trainer.” Finding Peace in the Storms: A Wife’s Journey with Breast Cancer Yinka Vidal. Lara Publications Inc. $8.99 e-book (393p), ISBN 9780964081857 Amazon The wife of a wealthy man in Chicago is afflicted with breast cancer. Here are her thoughts on conquering her fears through faith and love, the support she receives from her best friend, and her greatest gift to her husband.
The Depth of Grace: Finding Hope at Rock Bottom J. Bronson Haley. Westbow Press. $22.95 paper (287p), ISBN 978449710460; $9.99 e-book ISBN 9781449710484 depthofgrace.com From street fighting and burglary to alcohol and drugs, Haley lived fast and hard. But God’s grace still reached him in his life of sin. Footprints of God in Every Season Merton Lee. iUniverse. $14.95 paper (138p), ISBN 9781475979725; $3.99 e-book ISBN 9781475979732 Amazon; bn.com An essential, groundbreaking handbook for Christians, pastors, and wisdom-seekers that answers such questions as “why does the world exist?” and “why do bad things happen to good people?.” The Cup of the Harlot: The End Times We Were Never Taught Bob Morley. CreateSpace. $19.98 paper (388p), ISBN 978148437658; $7.98 e-book ASIN B00CLC2VUM Amazon John taught his student Polycarp what his Revelation images really meant. This teaching has now been brought to light, revealing our modern interpretations to be wrong.
Guatemala Journey Among the Ixil Maya Susanna Badgley Place. Susanna Badgley Place. $24.95 paper (240p), ISBN 9780988487604 GuatemalaIxilJourney.org This unconventional and beautiful guidebook takes readers on an unforgettable journey into the magnificent mountain homelands, cultural traditions, and historic struggles and aspirations of Guatemala’s Ixil Maya. Touched by China Mary Coates Smith. Mary Coates Smith. $34.99 paper (100p), ISBN 9780615675930 www.marycoatessmith.com Smith took more than 3,000 photos on her trip to China and presents many of them in full color to show Americans the beauty of the people and of the exquisite sites in China in order to dispel common misconceptions. ■
The Best 10 Years of Your Life: But Let’s Plan on 20! Scotty Bruer. The Best 10 Years Direct LLC. $29.95 hardcover (110p), ISBN
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A Warm Place to Call Home (A Demon’s Story)
Michael Siemsen. Fantome, $14.95 paper (244p) ISBN 978-0-9834469-7-2
A demon’s evolution into a caring “human” is the refrain of this quirky novel. Frederick delights in taking over bodies and deleting the personalities of their owners, and he is indifferent about the consequences to the usurped. Attracted to 34-yearold Melanie, Frederick occupies the body of her boyfriend, Joseph Cling. Siemsen injects some humor into Frederick’s improvised relationships with Melanie’s family, but focuses on Frederick’s increasing devotion to Melanie, especially in the face of a suspected rival. Siemsen throws in startling revelations from Joseph’s brother James to force Frederick into a stark choice. The transformation of Frederick from brash, self-centered demon into a concerned person provides a central motif, but the ludicrous evolution of events somewhat undercuts the intended moral lesson.
to help her parents develop their nest egg during the Great Depression. Lane labors tirelessly at her own work and editing that of her mother, never accepting credit or money, but growing frustrated at the difficulties and demands over time. Albert does an excellent job of bringing historical figures to life in a credible way; her novel is well paced, its characterizations are strong, and the plot is solidly constructed.. Readers begin to understand Lane’s personality and mentality, as well as the things that drive her. Albert immerses readers in a historical period and gets them to understand the political and social conflicts of the time. Fans of Wilder will be intrigued by the book’s thesis and its presentation.
Castles in the Sand
Annie Daylon. McRac, $12.95 paper (247p) ISBN 978-0-9866980-1-9
Above and Beyond: A Novel of the Civil War
Jessica James. Patriot, $14.95 paper (205p) ISBN 978-0-9796000-9-8
★ A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder
Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses
Susan Wittig Albert. Persevero, $14.99 paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-9892035-0-0
Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and an accomplished professional author. Over the years, there has been literary conjecture that she was responsible in large part for the authorship of the Little House series. Albert’s book is fictional, but based on Lane’s unpublished diaries and letters, and makes a strong case for her active involvement with the Little House books. Albert presents the story of a strong-willed successful woman driven
Douglas Benton is an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Sarah Duvall is a Virginian and the widow of a Union officer. She is known to be no friend to the rebel army. When the two meet in the presence of General Lee, Benton learns a secret—Duvall is a crucial spy in the war effort and partially responsible for his current command. Benton is put in the difficult position of protecting her, while not surrendering her secret. The two grow close in the process, eventually falling in love. But when the Union Army discovers her secret, both Duvall and Benton’s love and lives are put at risk. James has a skillful grasp of the more romanticized parts of the Civil War, but tends to gloss over its less glamorous aspects, drawing Benton and Duvall with broad strokes that will make them appealing to readers. At times, the plot struggles with contrivance, but readers who are engaged with the characters and their romance will find a lot to like.
Justin Wentworth lost his parents in an automobile accident when he was 18, and ever since he’s been trying to compensate by overspending and focusing on material goods and alcohol—behaviors that eventually cost him his relationship with his wife and son and leave him homeless. While on the streets, he meets Steve Jameson, a graduate student doing his thesis on homelessness. Steve wants to do research on what sort of family troubles lead to homelessness, so he helps Justin and offers to take him to AA in exchange for his story. Justin agrees, even though he doesn’t trust Steve, and gradually reveals his story. But as Justin delves deeper and deeper, he uncovers buried truths that might destroy him. Daylon’s novel is a cautionary tale about entitlement, debt, and anger. The author ably portrays the behavior cycles that lead to alcoholic self-destruction. However, the characters and the book’s conclusion are simplistic. Some readers may find the novel’s predictability comfortable, but others will find the story overly familiar.
Color of Lies
Abbe Rolnick. Sedro, $14.95 paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-9845119-1-4
The loss of a “nuclear” bomb off Puerto Rico during WWII brings strange consequences in this overwrought exploration of a stressed community in Washington State decades later. Twenty-sixyear-old Maria de la Via, visiting her Aunt JoAnne, quickly discovers that neighbor Molly McCain is a whole lot worse than unpleasant. A longstanding spat over property rights
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threatens to escalate into a fight involving all of Concrete, Wash., as animal deaths and the dumping of toxic materials raise suspicions about long-buried secrets. This timely theme is hampered by wooden dialogue and minimal character development: Molly is presented as evil incarnate, and Maria’s search for answers predictably finds a parallel in a developing romance. Rolnick’s overriding message is that acquiescing to evil and bullying immerses individuals and community in a circle of lies; her heavy-handed, frequently bombastic dialogue reduces most of her characters to uninteresting stick fixtures. A less rigid delineation of good and evil might have given more focus to this examination of a community struggling to throw off its passivity in the face of an emergency.
Full Frontal: To Make a Long Story Short
Tom Baker. iUniverse, $10.95 paper (117p) ISBN 978-1-4759-5826-3
Deceit: A Pete Thorsen Mystery
Robert Wangard. Ampersand, $17.95 paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-4675-4523-5
When lawyer Pete Thorsen is called on to identify the body of former girlfriend Lynn Hawke, he learns that she also holds a driver’s license in the name of Laura Mati. The ensuing complications give Thorsen’s inclination to sleuth a workout in this well-plotted mystery. This third installment in the series finds Thorsen embarking on a solitary investigation, as Sheriff Emory Bond regards Hawke’s death as an accident. Wangard stirs the pot further with the murder of a charter boat operator, a killing that brings Thorsen into conflict with Homeland Security special agent Keegan Harris. Wangard’s complex plotting is more notable for its straightforward and relentless pursuit of answers than for action pyrotechnics. Thorsen is a subdued protagonist, but his character is developed through occasional glimpses at his personal life and his acerbic friendship with dour newspaperman Harry McTigue. Capable of guile and forceful questioning, Thorsen is a solid addition to the mystery genre.
Baker’s stories span the lifetime of Tim Halladay, from his coming-of-age to the relationships formed and dissolved as he matures. Collectively, the narrative follows Tim, a prideful and sexually active gay man, for decades: through his boyhood in the mid-1950s in New England through the mid-1970s and beyond. Tim’s boyhood is spent as a caddie at a country club with his best friend Jimmy, palling around with friend Bobby, then pursuing an interest in dance and theater, and enlisting in the army. More raucous adventures throughout the 1970s in New York City solidify his intentions to find men not just for sexual pleasure but also for a more romantic connection. The book concludes with a short story set at a Gay Pride parade in 2014, as Tim befriends a young man, much like a former version of himself, struggling with issues of identity and self-worth. Early in the book, Tim ponders: “What was wrong with two friends having feelings?” This sentiment resonates throughout Baker’s stories, and both gay and straight readers will relate to Tim’s plight to find himself and someone to truly love. The fact that Tim never feels his desires and urges are anything but natural is the true beating heart of this patchwork that is poignant, tactfully sensual, and much too short. Readers will be left wanting more of Tim Halladay and his lifelong search for love.
eldest, Gabriel. Soon, Sophia realizes that Gabriel intends to molest her the way he molested his real sister. Meanwhile, Cole’s flashbacks to the accident lead him to believe that he was the victim of attempted murder, his family may still be alive, and it is up to him to save them. Dove delivers a well-paced, albeit overly complicated, thriller. Readers will shudder at Gabriel’s sinister behavior and find themselves on the edge of their seats as Cole races against time. And while there are elements that will stretch reader patience, many will be willing to overlook them as they get caught up in the gripping story.
Libby Fischer Hellmann. The Red Herrings, $16.99 paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-938733-38-3
Ghosts of Royston: A Thriller
Eric G. Dove. Eric G. Dove, $14.99 paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4820-4396-9
Cole Danner is driving with wife Natalie and teenage daughter Sophia when a truck comes out of nowhere and crashes into their car. The next thing Cole knows, he’s half-dead in a river, and his wife and daughter are missing and presumed dead. Sophia wakes up in a cabin in the woods with a woman who is convinced that she is her dead daughter, Ruthie. The woman’s three sons concur, especially the
In Cuba, on the eve of the revolution, 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli’s mobster father runs a casino. While Francesca is supposed to marry another man, she falls in love with Cuban revolutionary Luis and becomes pregnant. But Francesca’s father kidnaps her, and she is taken to the U.S. Luis never finds her again. Year later, Francesca’s son, Michael, is sent to Cuba on dangerous family business— and the trip changes his life and that of his family. This sprawling tale takes readers from Cuba to Angola and Chicago and back again. While the story of the Cuban revolution, as well as the Cuban military efforts in Angola, is fascinating, readers will find their credulity strained by plot holes and the author’s reliance on coincidences. The story’s twists and turns become frustrating and it’s difficult to be fully invested in the characters.
L.A. Jones, illus. by Antonio Clemente Fernandez. Abbott, $33.99 paper (558p) ISBN 978-1-4582-0926-9
Kooriime is an island paradise populated by elves that has been hidden from hu-
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manity for centuries. The elves have flourished in peaceful abundance, but their lives are violently disrupted by the appearance of humans. When outsiders discover the elves, they crave the natural resources of Kooriime and set about kidnapping hundreds of elves for scientific purposes. The elves fight back to protect their own, with the novel following the stories of several elves who are kidnapped, rescued, and find their way to a haven in New York City. Jones has done some solid world-building here, but much of it draws on other works of fantasy and will seem familiar. Many elves in this sprawling, meandering tale are gay, but this just serves to make the many elven characters more indistinguishable and prompt readers to wonder which story of alienation Jones is trying to tell. Fans of the fantasy genre—even contemporary fantasy—won’t know quite what to do with this ambitious novel.
My Summer on Haight Street
Robert Rice Jr. Fox Point, $14.99 paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-615-76758-1
Mary Stanik, illus. by Jack Ohman. Mary Stanik, $11.99 paper (222p) ISBN 978-09883900-0-3
At age 36, Jenn Bergquist finds life as media relations director of a Minneapolis hospital tolerable if romantically unrewarding. She travels to Iceland when famous psychic Bianca Fiona, awaiting a liver transplant, asks her to work with Bianca’s volcanologist brother, Tony. While this fortuitous intervention allows Jenn to escape the hospital, the trip leads to the revelation of decades-old secrets that threaten to change Jenn’s life. Although romance prevails and good fortune implausibly intervenes, Jenn never becomes more than a cipher. Stanik evidently draws on her own life experience in creating the well-developed Jenn. However, the implausible action, even less plausible wrapping up, and mixed bag of unusual characters may leave readers indifferent.
Rice provides an informed, if surface, glimpse at the turmoil of 1967 as three young Milwaukee men ponder their future amid the escalating Vietnam War. To narrator Bob Ralston, reviewing events as he prepares for retirement, the Summer of Love in San Francisco’s HaightAshbury was irresistibly alluring. Straight-arrow John Haus enlists in the army, while Jim Gaston opts for the alternative lifestyles of a commune and ashram. Ralston’s initial enthusiastic embrace of San Francisco becomes tempered by exposure to radical ideologues. Along with the diverse paths the three friends take, Rice weaves a mosaic of Vietnam violence, radical bombings, and FBI vigilance, with side glimpses at such onetime cultural figures as Timothy Leary. Forced, in a somewhat contrived incident, to choose between the dominant culture and the counterculture, Ralston opts to follow his convictions rather than his fears. Rice’s handling of his complex subject evokes the anguished arguments of the times, while adroitly avoiding simplistic conclusions. This look at a bygone era will provide period survivors some reminiscent moments, while offering a kind of abbreviated tour to those interested in a time when things could seriously be described as “groovy.”
ous murders. And to make matters worse, al-Qaeda operatives are hard at work assembling Silkworm missiles in a local barn. As James works to clear his name and save the day, he finds an ambiguous ally in former office manager Ethel Keyes. Double identities and derring-do abound, and James’s commitment to health care for the needy seems unlikely to prevail over bullets, suicide bombers, and Silkworm missiles. Although Shepard provides some moments of genuine suspense, his novel suffers from implausible and often incomprehensible complications and a proliferation of characters.
★ Operation Saladin: Sequel to
The Wayward Spy
Roger Croft. Cassio Books International, $12.99 paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-4823-1169-3
Not for Profit
Glenn Shepard. Mystery House, $17.96 paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-615-76552-5
Scott James, an orchid-loving North Carolina plastic surgeon, takes on forprofit medicine and al-Qaeda in this vigorous if overwrought medical thriller. Opposing the plan of Herb Waters—the president of Jackson Healthcare Systems— to sell Jackson City Hospital to a for-profit chain, James finds his career and life endangered by mysteri-
The transfer of dynastic power in Syria sparks romantic rivalry, espionage, and adventure in this complexly plotted spy thriller. Former covert operator Michael Vaux, now a boozeloving journalist, sheds his identity and is recruited by a British intelligence unit to help Syrian nuclear scientist Nessim Said, codenamed Saladin, defect to the West. Croft renders a plausible account of the ambiguities of espionage, while his world of double-dealing and treachery, with a suggestion of indifferent, manipulative bureaucrats, confirms the dour observation of a veteran spymaster that loyalty among spies verges upon being an oxymoron. Croft’s moral wilderness and compilation of treachery rings far truer than the glamour of a James Bond, and the clash between romance, personal loyalty, and institutional duplicity bears the unmistakable tone of one who knows.
Andy Solomon. BookBaby, $8.99 e-book (343p) ISBN 978-1-62675-296-2
Mark Hollander is a student and artist when he meets Holly McIvey. They fall for each other and soon marry, despite their youth and poverty. The couple
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struggles to succeed at work and college, and after the birth of their son, Ben, they move from Pittsburgh to Florida. Soon Holly—who takes a job at a women’s shelter—begins to distance herself from Mark, eventually leaving and giving him custody of Ben. Mark tries to make it as a single parent, and in time comes to a startling realization about Holly’s past. Solomon tells a meandering story of love, loss, growing up, and parenthood that suffers from slow pacing and a choppy structure. Unfortunately, this will take some out of a fascinating novel populated by well-developed, vivid characters.
Rivka’s War: A Novel
Marilyn Oser. Mill City, $14.95 paper (274p) ISBN 978-1-62652-050-9
Reader: Daughter of Time: Book I
Erec Stebbins. Twice Pi, $24.99 hardcover (312p) ISBN 978-0-9890004-4-4
Can 17-year-old Ambra Dawn save the Earth from a malevolent alien emperor in the late 21st century? Stebbins presents a dark vision of humanity in thrall to a merciless but technologically advanced alien race known as the Dram. Kidnapped by these evil aliens for her special gift (as a “reader” she has visions of the past and future), Ambra is subjected to torture that deprives her of her eyesight but expands her powers. She is later sold into slavery but freed by the Xix, a benevolent alien race. With her powers exceeding those of all previous readers, Ambra must travel through space and time to defeat the Dram and save the universe. Stebbins’s complex sci-fi novel is well plotted, and the world and alien races he creates are rich, clearly imagined, and full of detail. Readers of thoughtful science fiction that offers myriad allusions to everyday themes will welcome this springboard to a new and imaginative series.
Rivka is a young Jewish girl in WWIera Russia. While visiting her brother, she hears an inspirational speech by Yashka, a Russian woman and war veteran. Yashka is so zealous in her patriotism that she is formulating a battalion of women, a “Battalion of Death.” Several young women, including Rivka, are inspired to follow her. The battalion goes into combat, fighting against the German enemy and the skepticism of fellow Russians. Oser’s tale should be riveting, but the novel meanders significantly. Rivka herself is a compelling heroine, representing both the Jewish diaspora and the precarious politics of the time very well. However, there are too many stories, which are given too little time and focus, leaving a feeling of being rushed and scattered.
is faced with a difficult decision. Few American readers are familiar with the Iranian side of the 1979 hostage crisis, and this is an eye-opening look at a country in turmoil. Roxana is a strong protagonist, and while readers may grow frustrated by unrealistic resistance to her American love, they will understand the cultural clash and empathize with her struggles. .
Spunk: A Fable
Helen O’Reilly. CreateSpace, $14.99 paper (305p) ISBN 978-1-4839-7987-8
Farin Powell, iUniverse, $34.95 hardcover (443p) ISBN 978-1-4759-8063-9
Roxana, an Iranian attorney on Wall Street, is doing well for herself and enjoying life in the United States. That all changes with the hostage crisis of 1979. When she starts facing prejudice in the States, Roxana decides to return to Iran. While she thinks she’ll be relatively insulated from the changes that have taken place in Iran, given her education and experience, she is not. Roxana comes into conflict with new restrictions on women, causing her no end of frustration. She has an American admirer, but resists his advances for a while. Finally she decides to marry co-worker Afshin, whom she does not love, but who promises her a good life. Afshin becomes stingy, neglectful, and abusive, but Roxana fears losing custody of her children and
O’Reilly delivers a fascinating novel about a group of women and girls who, in postapocalyptic New York City, belong to an Amazonian society that believes men are no longer a necessity in the world. In an effort to survive, the women— who live in a forest that now covers Manhattan—capture men to perpetuate their community, only to exterminate them when they have served their purpose. O’Reilly’s characters are well drawn, and her prose straightforward and startling: “At first, and at Buffy’s suggestion, the women had tried a sort of rough-andready castration technique that involved twine and a sharp knife, but the results were predictable: death by exsanguination.” Highly original and visceral, O’Reilly’s book announces itself like a newborn baby straight from the womb: with a guttural cry that abounds with possibility.
★ Straight Out of Lewis Carroll’s
Michael J. Rumpf. Spielplatz Novelties, $14.99 paper (386p) ISBN 978-0-615-39808-2
Trash Can: A Jonathan Tollhausler Adventure
Girls are hot and studies are not, in this rollicking, good-humored idyll of 1983 undergraduate life at Rudyard University. College slacker Jonathan Tollhausler is content to idle away his
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Q A Croft, Roger Croft
PW Talks with… n
Roger Croft self-published the thriller Operation Saladin—the second installment in his Michael Vaux series—through CreateSpace. The book received a starred review from PW Select (see p. 25), with our reviewer calling it a “complexly plotted, vigorous spy thriller.” We caught up with Croft over email to chat about self-publishing, the importance of marketing, and circumventing publishing gatekeepers.
Why did you decide to self-publish Operation Saladin?
Operation Saladin was the unexpected sequel to The Wayward Spy. Unexpected because I never really planned a sequel—Wayward was a novel in itself. After publication of Wayward, many readers were curious as to what happened to Michael Vaux, the protagonist, after his flight to the Middle East. That set my mind and imagination on overdrive and I wrote the sequel in six months. I wanted to get the book out on the market before readers had forgotten their interest in Vaux, and so I went to self-publishing rather than going through all those gatekeepers (agents) who take it upon themselves to protect publishers from books or authors they don’t like. Prior to self-publication, did you try selling your book to publishing houses? No, I did not have a literary agent. I sent The Wayward Spy to a few agents in London and New York but nobody seemed interested. If one doesn’t get past the literary agent, one has little hope these days of getting the book published by a conventional publisher. Once you decided to self-publish, what was the process like? I worked with CreateSpace as I had with The Wayward Spy. I found the process efficient and a lot quicker than it might have been. I asked for editing services, book design, and an in-house critique, and was happy with the publisher’s execution of these services. The total cost of the whole process came to just under $3,000. What were the biggest challenges with self-publishing? One word: marketing. Until places like CreateSpace come up with some deal with bricks-and-mortar book shops (even if they are an endangered species) self-published writers will always face the high cost of marketing through Internet ads or print ads. Because of the book industry’s arcane form of payments, reimbursements and returns, even book signings in conventional bookshops are difficult to organize. Sometimes, the author is required to buy the books that could be sold to eager readers to make sure the bookshop takes no risk. Then you have to hope you’re not left with a pile of unsold books because it snowed or rained all day. Looking back on your own experience, what are the pros and cons of selfpublishing? As a former journalist, I’m used to having my writing see “the light of day.” So, of course, the big advantage of self-publishing is to see your novel in print and available to the public in unlimited quantities! The cons of self-publishing are, as suggested, the very real problems and expense of selfmarketing. What advice would you give to other writers considering self-publishing?
When I decided to go this route, I was confident (a) that I could write and (b) that I had a gripping story to tell in my favorite genre—spy fiction. So anyone who is confident of their basic writing abilities and who has an interesting story to tell should, after a certain number of rejections from agents and/ or publishers, simply “go it alone.” With more people self-publishing, do you see the lines between publishing and self-publishing beginning to blur? Yes. Bestseller lists are featuring more self-published works—and that’s highly positive. Conventional publishers may even one day wake up to the fact that their favorite gatekeepers (agents) are constantly making faulty judgments about a book’s prospects. What are you working on now? Believe it or not, a third thriller in the Michael Vaux trilogy.
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time while he focuses on the important elements of student life: improving his luck with the opposite sex. His like-minded pals engage in card games, bull sessions, frat parties, and bemoaning the pointlessness of college. Rumpf’s dialogue is witty, and bedroom farce is as delightful as it is in Shakespeare. Contrasts between student antics and stern security guards infuse an occasional grim note, but any clouds on the horizon are usually related to romantic spats. When love interest Diane Curzewski finally commits to Tollhausler, she has been as delighted by the affable misfit as the reader will surely be. whole day together, doing their favorite things in New York City. They each go through with the plan to save the other’s life. But as the day goes on, they find themselves falling in love and finding reasons to live. Maher’s novella is intimate and insightful. Henry and Christa come from very different backgrounds, but their despair is palpable. Maher has a deep knowledge of New York City, and the couple’s time together is full of the quiet adventures of city natives, making New York an equally important character in the gripping and touching story. adventures of an orphaned teen named Finn, recounting a life—presumably Morton’s own—full of adventures, wandering, and fighting. Set during the 18th century, the story unfolds as young Finn’s initial military zeal leads to service in a series of battles in the New World. The horrors of war are a familiar coming-of-age theme, but Finn seems to carom from one encounter to another with little character growth. While the well-researched and evocative use of historical figures provides a dignified patina to the novel’s events, the stilted dialogue and preachy messages of Finn’s friends and associates provide a nearly fatal distraction from the vivid depictions of battle.
Geoffrey Mehl. Pennystone, $14.95 paper (332p) ISBN 978-0-615-64279-6
Michael Hurley. Ragbagger, $14.99 paper (358p) ISBN 978-1-4826-9427-7
Mehl pits three outcast ex-intelligence agents against the CIA in this dynamic if thinly characterized espionage adventure. Set up for execution, aging spook and safecracker Tommy Kane finds refuge in Belize. There, he links up with former KGB man Sergei Yenchenko and ex-British operative Ian Wells, and decides to fight back. Mehl’s thriller evokes both the sense of a world gone wrong and the Wild West image of determined loners facing down the bad guys. Unfortunately, the clipped British-isms given to Wells and the clumsy, Russian-laden English of Yenchenko are hackneyed. Despite an unconvincing resolution, fans of the genre will be more than rewarded by the book’s wealth of convincing detail about flight plans, computer hacking, money games, and other dirty tricks.
★ The Bridge
Rebecca Rogers Maher. Promised Land, $1.99 e-book (79p) ISBN 978-1-62539-048-6
Aidan Sharpe is a lawyer whose small mistake costs him his career. He goes to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to try to regain some sense of self, and meets and rescues a young woman named Molly, and forms a friendship with a priest, Marcus, who struggles with addiction. Marcus discovers a boat, named Cygnet, and the boat’s appearance leads him to believe that it may be a legendary ship called the Prodigal. His interest in the ship also attracts the attention of colleagues in the Vatican, who believe the ship may hold a sacred relic. Hurley’s novel weaves in many elements of law, sailing, and Roman Catholicism, and ties them together well. While the allegories are a bit heavy-handed and characters are simplistic at times , the author’s attention to detail and the pleasures of his well-crafted prose compensate.
The Six Train to Wisconsin
Kourtney Heintz. CreateSpace, $15.99 paper (433) ISBN 978-1-4818-8457-0
Henry and Christa meet under peculiar circumstances—they’ve both climbed to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge intending to kill themselves. Henry suffers from clinical depression, and Christa was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. They each resolve to prevent the other from suicide with a promise to spend the
The Rule of Ranging— Book One: Eclipse of the Midnight Sun
Timothy M. Kestrel. Timothy Kestrel Arts & Media, $32.95 hardcover (315p) ISBN 978-09886660-0-9
Kai is a telepath working as a social worker in Manhattan. Her husband, Oliver, has devoted much of his life to keeping her from crippling depression and suicidal thoughts. Desperate for relief, Oliver drugs Kai and takes her to his tiny hometown of Butternut, Wis., in hopes that the quieter environment will let her reconnect with herself and quiet the voices she hears as a result of her powers. But things don’t work out according to plan in Butternut, as Oliver’s past threatens to derail his and Kai’s future. Readers will be hooked by Kai’s special powers and the ways in which they make her life difficult. Oliver’s kidnapping of Kai is compelling, though some aspects of plot are tied together in contrived ways. Heintz resists clear resolution at the end, which may be frustrating to some while delighful to others.
The Thieves of Stonewood: Book I of the Stonewood Trilogy
Jeremy Hayes. Northlord, $12.99 paper (312p) ISBN 978-0-9918642-0-1
In Kestrel’s kickoff to this historical series, it is 1854 and elderly Mr. Morton tells journalist Henry Raymond about the
Stonewood is a rich city with a thriving
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criminal underground full of thieves and sneaky assassins. But these aren’t your run of the mill thugs. They are members of a secret society of low-lives known as the Thieves Guild, and they don’t let just anyone into their ranks—just ask Harcourt, a man who desperately wants membership in order to save the love of his life. In this fantasy romp, Hayes’s characters are well developed and his plotting intricate and entertaining. Hayes’s prose is simple and straightforward and the result is a thrilling tale of love, loss, and the need to fit in. Josh Stallings has lived a hard life: his father was abusive and left his family; his mother was absent much of the time; he and his older brother, Lark, get into drugs and crime. As Josh grows older, he meets Erika and they fall in love and get married. Erika becomes pregnant and they have two sons. Josh struggles to make it as a film editor in Hollywood and feed his family, while grappling with his own addictions to cocaine and alcohol. As his sons grow older, Josh struggles further— his elder son is disabled and his younger son has severe drug problems of his own. Stallings’s memoir opens with a focus on the older son, but quickly delves into his own checkered past. The author vacillates between being unrepentant for his past behavior and feeling tormented that his choices adversely affected his sons’ chances at happiness. Stallings is clearly a skilled writer, but his family members are not fully developed, and this makes it difficult for readers to invest in them as characters. Still the author’s bravado, honesty, and emotion are present throughout. Goh and Paull avoid mapping out an uncertain future, but note that the rush of foreign competitors to do business in China creates its own imperative to act now or lose out. Their observations include the banal, the practical, and the amusing, and the case studies are useful.
Dream Home: What You Need to Know Before You Buy
Anthony Alofsin. CreateSpace, $7.99 paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-4848-0215-1
Adventures in Filmmaking
Peter Rowe. Pinewood Independent Publishing, $15.95 paper (273p) ISBN 978-09918625-0-4
Peter Rowe has been a professional filmmaker for decades. He has traveled the world and filmed in the most extreme conditions. As he spins the story of his career, he takes readers from his youthful experiences with film in the 1960s and a remake of Treasure Island with Jack Palance to his recent extreme weather documentary filmmaking. Rowe also discusses the opportunities afforded filmmakers now—and through it all, he maintains his grace and gentlemanly discretion. For readers familiar with his work, or film enthusiasts in general, this book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of filmmaking. As a narrative, however, it suffers from chronological jumps, an unclear structure, and repetition. This might be distracting, but Rowe’s diverting anecdotes serve as balance.
China CMO: Best Practices in Marketing Effectiveness and Efficiency
Greg Paull and Goh Shu Fen. Signal8, $27.96 hardcover (350p) ISBN 978-988-15542-3-9
All The Wild Children: A Noir Memoir
Josh Stallings. Snubnose, $15.99 paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4826-0191-6
In a wide-ranging if bland review of marketing business in China, Goh and Paull offer insights from top marketing officials for overseas companies about approaches that have worked there. Predictably, they emphasize the need for agility and adaptability, and that regional, linguistic, and cultural factors militate against any one-size-fits-all approach. While dramatic predictions about population growth and growing consumer wealth lure overseas firms, such well-known controversies as mandated technology transfer point to the need for a cautious approach.
Alofsin provides a chatty, informed look at the tension between the persistent goal of home ownership and the gap between dreams and possibilities. The growing ethnic diversity of U.S. home buyers hasn’t changed the traditions that heavily shape home buyers’ dreams. Alofsin suggests that developers focus on cosmetic, big-dollar issues like landscaping and ambience to add variety and appeal to a limited range of basic models. His focus on newly built homes and his architectural background allow him to illuminate emerging concerns in home construction, among them technology, energy efficiency, and water availability. While some of Alofsin’s reflections verge on the obvious, he also offers insights into the mutating housing market. Potential home buyers will find his suggestions about how to define a dream house worth pondering, and find reassurance in his belief that the quality of U.S. homes is improving at all price levels.
Essays for My Father: A Legacy of Passion, Politics, and Patriotism in Small-Town America
Richard Muti. Richard Muti, $17.95 paper (216p) ISBN 978-0-9891482-0-7
In this wide-ranging compilation of newspaper opinion pieces, Muti strives to provide provocative insights into national issues, his Italian-American antecedents, and New Jersey politics. The dedication to his father hints at Muti’s belief in the greatness of ordinary Americans, and that spirit carries over to his essays. He skewers both
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the politicians who are convinced they have the answers to every problem and those who lack the stamina to take unpopular stances, while also challenging apathetic and self-serving citizens to take an active interest in civic doings. In one essay, he asserts that national service, military or alternative, should be demanded of all young Americans, a sacrifice that is part of American tradition. Muti’s tone ranges from outraged to humorous, depending on his subject matter, and his well-rounded background provides a strong basis for his opinions. The specifics of Muti’s writing are less interesting than his belief in the obligation of citizens to take action to further opportunity and his faith that the gadfly’s bite may prove invigorating to the public. background in finance, not education—something she makes clear from the beginning of her book. However, she provides a comprehensive overview of the strategies and tactics that modern parents can use to address the subpar American educational system and give their children the ability to get ahead in a challenging global economy. She does this through a mixture of interviews with teenagers, an exploration of educational theories, and her own assessments as a parent. While Jones offers many opinions on educational achievement and success, her advice sometimes misses the mark. While some of her suggestions, e.g., drawing children into enriching activities at home and focusing on digital literacy, will be useful to most children, others will likely be helpful only to privileged children and impractical for low-income families. Her photographs and insights from repeat visits provide practical tips on exploring the little-known region. Intrepid, independent-minded travelers will find her descriptions alluring; her work itself provides a stimulating glimpse of an alternative to well-worn destinations. Anyone tempted by the undiscovered riches of the road less taken will be intrigued by Place’s passionate call to assist the Ixil people in developing a sustainable future and preserving their traditions.
Middle Way: Freedom & Progressive Social Change Since World War II
Alan Rabinowitz. Quansoo, $18 paper (226p) ISBN 978-1-4819-4458-8
Funeral in a Feminine Dress: Depravity Reborn as Virtue
MJ Burke Sr. Michael Burke, $11.95 paper (267p) ISBN 978-0-9890287-1-4
MJ Burke was raised by severely troubled parents. They began their relationship with an unexpected pregnancy and stayed together for tumultuous decades. His father was emotionally and physically abusive toward his mother, and she desperately tried to get him to love her while she was busy drinking herself to death. When MJ was in third grade, his mother was brutally assaulted coming home from the bar one night. MJ witnessed this, and his mother swore him to silence. Burke’s memoir is often unreflective and meandering, and this collection of memories of a dysfunctional family and disturbing childhood would be more palatable if the author offered cohesive themes or more self-awareness.
Guatemala Journey Among the Ixil Maya
Susanna Badgley Place. Susanna Badgley Place, $24.95 paper (240p) ISBN 978-09884876-0-4
Get Your Child to the Top: How Do Children Succeed Today
Megan Lisa Jones. Laerrn, $13.99 paper (261p) ISBN 978-0-615-76334-7
Jones is a concerned parent with a
Place effectively limns the culture and history of the Ixil Maya, a people whose homeland, half the size of Rhode Island, lies in a remote, mountainous section of northern Guatemala. She amply details their ancient importance in Mayan civilization, the violence of Spanish colonialism, and the tragic decades of civil war from 1960 to 1996. Even after the Peace Accords of 1996, Ixil culture remains largely unappreciated even within Guatemala. Place’s review of history reflects her conviction that travelers, possibly in contrast to tourists, find enduring rewards from learning, respecting, and sharing what matters most to the local people. She forcefully argues the importance of sustaining the endangered traditional Ixil culture and language, while avoiding quaint antiquarianism.
Urban economist Rabinowitz details how a political and social “middle way” works to provide Americans with civil rights, liberties, and a mixed economy that strikes a balance between unbridled capitalism and socialism. The author makes a convincing case that this middle way grew out of the New Deal and President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms doctrine, and explains the current gulf between right and left, while offering political and economic solutions. Rabinowitz presciently observes that our decade may be as the years in which the New Deal were implemented. His conclusion that American society today is more free and exciting than the post-New Deal era cannot be gainsaid.
Signs of the Tines: The Ultimate Astrological Cookbook
Joan Porte. Soulsign, $24.95 paper (296p) ISBN 978-0-9788535-1-8
Each zodiac sign—from Capricorn to Sagittarius—gets a chapter filled with recipes and cooking tips in Porte’s astrologically themed cookbook, but the real stars are spiffed-up versions of deeply satisfying comfort foods like slow-cooked wine and Worcestershire sauce–spiked Brunswick stew, carb-rich noodle kugel, and decadent icebox cake laden with chocolate pudding, bananas, rum, and whipped cream. Some
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of the best dishes are rooted in Porte’s ItalianAmerican heritage, among them a crustless ricotta pie, pastina with mint pesto, and sausage and pepper pasta. Although readers unfamiliar with sun signs may benefit less from the author’s “astrological gastronomy,” Porte’s breezy, humorous prose, references to the astrological signs of everyone from Mother Teresa and Madonna to Bill Clinton and Joseph Stalin, easy-to-follow recipes, and celestial renderings of classic dishes are undeniably appetizing. that God helped him make it. His depiction of his misspent youth in Shreveport, La., alternates vivid scenes of fights, thefts, and drunken joyrides with biblical analysis. While the pattern of unregenerate sinner transformed into devout believer by God’s grace is not uncommon, Haley spares little detail in recreating his misdeeds, suggesting that the author, despite denials, takes some pride in his strayings. Haley’s accounts of his faults and relapse even after being saved, on January 15, 1997, adds meat to his declaration that sin is inevitable. His admission that he remains a little wild may lead some to wonder if his reformation reflects divine grace or the workings of an addictive personality.
Andrew Levison. Democratic Strategist, $12 paper (302p) ISBN 978-0-692-01979-5
Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity
Catana Tully. Completion Enterprises, $14.39 paper (263p) ISBN 978-1-4791-1469-6
The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook
Christina Brockett. Stella Maris, $14.95 paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-9889379-1-8
Born in 1940, Catana Tully grew up in Guatemala. While she is black, she was raised by a white German couple who— while loving her and giving her every advantage—never formally adopted her. As she grew older, Tully was forced to confront her own privilege and alienation. Additionally, she worked to explore her past, reaching out to her biological mother’s other children to learn about her mother, her father, and the strange circumstances surrounding her parenting. Tully, an able storyteller, relates an interesting, enlightening story, especially given the evolution of racial and cultural attitudes she witnessed during her lifetime.
The Depth of Grace: Finding Hope at Rock Bottom
J. Bronson Haley. WestBow, $22.95 paper (287p) ISBN 978-1-44971046-0
The leap from teenage alcoholism, drug addiction, and burglary to receiving divine grace might seem extreme, but Haley assures readers
Brockett provides refreshingly easy-going, if relatively insubstantial, insights about the difficult art of child rearing. Writing essays about her own parenting difficulties, she came to believe that nearly all parents feel frustration at some point and solicited contributions from parents across the country. Her purpose is to offer a range of shared experiences, rather than pointers on baby burping or feeding. Among the topics addressed is parental dysfunction, as well as predicaments facing young children and teens. Brockett also offers an abundance of humorous stories and comes to the conclusion that “it really is all worth it.” The identification of contributors by first names only reinforces the author’s message that this work is by, and for, everyman and everywoman. Readers looking for shared experiences or flashes of insight may find some wisdom in Brockett’s collection of essays; those seeking more profound guidance on filling out their own missing pages may need to look elsewhere.
In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, Levinson makes a convincing argument that—despite claims to the contrary from some political strategists—the Democratic Party still needs the support of the white working class. In presenting his case that this portion of the electorate is still vital to the success of progressives, Levinson offers up a host of facts and figures while shattering stereotypes of the white working class as a diminished and largely conservative group. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Levison’s thesis is fascinating and well articulated. His book raises important questions about the future of American politics, while also offering useful insights on the distinctions between media stereotypes and real-world complexity and between self-referential political pros and those genuinely concerned with common problems.
Keith Greenstein. CreateSpace, $12 paper (28p) ISBN 978-1-4848-5170-8
The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support
Greenstein, a copywriter by trade, masquerades as an ally to young sleep-dodgers, warning them to avoid yawn-inducing activities while giving them a tour of those very things. A wide-eyed blond boy stands in for readers in Greenstein’s illustrations, which feel like an ode to vintage 1950s cartoons. At bedtime, the boy is seen lying awake in bed (his thought bubble displays a ramshackle pile of fleecy sheep), not that he’s complaining: “Heck, you’ll stay up till dawn!/ All you have to do/ Is make sure you don’t yawwwwwwwwwwn.” The singsong verse is built around similarly drawn-out words, inviting readers to chime in (and perhaps
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triggering an inadvertent yawn or two): “Steer clear of creatures/ Like lobster or prawwwwwwwwn.” A few jokes seem more aimed at adults than children—“Don’t listen to podcasts/ About the pecaaaaaaaan” reads one page, while a scene about sitting for a portrait includes visual winks to both Titanic and The Family Guy. But Greenstein shows he’s not above poking fun at himself, too: “And last but not least, to stop sleep coming on.../ Don’t read books like this one/ ’cause they make kids Yawwwwwwwwn!” Ages 3–6.
Avra Wing. Olinville Press, $8.99 paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-615-66946-5
The Dragons of Pan Gu
Kevin White, illus. by Rex White. Chimeric Press (www.chimericpress.com), $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-9847122-6-7
The White siblings (Chasing Watermelons) offer a somewhat esoteric story based on Chinese creation myth. After solitary Pan Gu, who “walked in the void of the heavens,” shapes the Earth, he realizes that it “will need a source of power... or it will not grow.” Pan Gu, a round figure sketched in white against the murky backdrop of the skies, forms a black dragon that breathes frost and snow. Since Earth remains barren, Pan Gu then creates a white dragon whose “breath was smoke and fire,” and the dragons engage in a struggle for control, ending in a yin and yang–type balance that allows the Earth to flourish. The narrative itself grapples with clarity and obscurity (when creating the Earth, Pan Gu “felt the forming of it in his mind, so he labored through a thought and a time, and before the second time could pass he reached into the void and formed the seed.” Happily, the Whites close their story on a more intimate note, as a Chinese man and his grandson discuss the “wisdom in the balance” of opposites, including young and old. Ages 3–6.
A year after the death of his younger brother, Isaac, 14-year-old Aaron and his family are still in pain. Between therapy, reconnecting with estranged friends, and getting to know a girl named Emma, Aaron is slowly adjusting to life without Isaac, but the announcement that his parents plan to adopt a baby from China sends him into a tailspin. A chance meeting with Kim, a homeless teenager, offers Aaron a chance to reach out, but his attempts may not turn out as planned when Kim opens his eyes to a darker side of life. Wing (Angie, I Says) delivers an emotionally complex story of life, love, grief, and recovery as Aaron gradually accepts the changes in his family. The author also skillfully tackles topics of foreign adoptions and racism, as Aaron faces the idea and ramifications of having a Chinese sister. Though at times overwrought, the narrative generally stays on track as Wing delves into complicated material. If anything, the page count may be a little slim for the multiple themes and threads running through this story. Ages 12–up.
engaged in a political struggle for the throne. Marisa is soon caught between Darian and the ruthless Savino, both contenders for the crown with claims on her heart. As Marisa’s situation threatens to overwhelm her, she attempts to chart her own path, unaware of the destiny that lies before her. The plot twists, romantic beats, and narrative flow too often tend toward generic, and the author glosses over details of the Carnelian setting in favor of Marisa’s existential angst and emotional turmoil, as well as her will-they, won’t-they relationship with Darian. For her part, Marisa is a woefully passive heroine, and the plot unfolds in a too-convenient manner; a sequel, The Carnelian Tyranny, is planned. Ages 12–up.
The Hissing Tree
A.M. Winter. CreateSpace, $12.98 paper (362p) ISBN 978-1-4637-2797-0
The Carnelian Legacy
Cheryl Koevoet. Thomas Nelson/WestBow, $22.95 paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4497-8089-0
Debut author Koevoet presents a predictable tale of romance and adventure in this story of a young woman who inadvertently travels to an unfamiliar world. Still reeling from her father’s death, almost 18-year-old Marisa MacCallum is caught off guard when a vortex takes her from Earth to the realm of Carnelia. There, she finds friendship and protection with Darian, a handsome but unavailable nobleman
In this somewhat meandering comingof-age tale, first-time author Winter draws on childhood experience to paint a vivid picture of life in 1952 Southern Rhodesia (what is now Zimbabwe). Over the course of a summer, 11-year-old tomboy Nicole “Nick” Doughty chronicles her experiences, which range from innocently entertaining (playing with her friends and struggling for control of their four-person gang) to nearly traumatic (being assaulted by several older boys). Along the way, she reluctantly confronts her oncoming adolescence, handles matters of life and death, witnesses the casual racism and social injustice of the era, and obsesses over a missing female journalist. While the novel’s setting is authentic and the narrative voice engaging, it runs long and can come across as more episodic than cohesive, despite several underlying themes that include equality, racism, and life’s innate unfairness. The blend of idyllic childhood escapades and brutal reality evokes an older style of storytelling, akin to John D. Fitzgerald’s Great Brain series, though some readers may be daunted by the heavy use of slang and native terms (defined in an opening glossary). Ages 14–up. ■
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The New Publishing Jobs Market and 2013 Salary Survey
Moderator Jim Milliot co-editorial director Publishers Weekly Panelists David Bronstein Chief Talent Officer The Perseus Books Group Lorranie Shanley President Market Partners International Susan Gordon President Lynne Palmer Executive Recruitment,Inc. Anne Converse Willkomm Director of Graduate Publishing Rosemont College School of Graduate Studies
What does the new publishing jobs market look like? Who is getting hired into these new publishing jobs, and what are the being paid? Are we professionalizing the industry with the proliferation of graduate publishing programs, increased digitization and the like?
Register and join the conversation on September 25, 2013, for the PW Discussion Series in New York. Our panel of experts will discuss new trends in publishing jobs, what new skills are in demand and developments in the publishing industry pay scales. This diverse panel of industry insiders and job-watchers will be moderated by Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly co-editorial director and author of the PW 2013 Annual Salary Survey.
Wednesday, September 25th 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Random House Café Auditorium, 2nd floor 1745 Broadway, New York, NY Coffee & Pastries 8:30 – 9 Panel Discussion 9 – 11:00
Sponsored in part by
Register Today at: PublishersWeekly.com/Discussionseries